Saturday, March 29

Diary of a too-late Ice Skater, Part 4

So it seems the skating season is over. I was down at Parc La Fontaine yesterday, and the pond is now just slush. Temperatures are predicted to be over zero all week this week, so I think that's it for the skating. I'm really glad I got to go one last time on Monday.
But now that the sidewalks are mostly free of snow and ice, maybe I'll buy some rollerblades (which are also plentiful in thrift stores) and continue to develop my skills. It would probably save me buying a bike as well.
Of course, I've never rollerbladed in my life. So I bet I'm a pretty-crap rollerblader. But I managed to not kill myself on the ice, so I'm sure I can learn to survive on the streets as well!

Meanwhile, here's a pic I took at the ex-ice skating pond yesterday. Isn't this the funkiest dancing hockey playing stick figure you've ever seen? As far as I can tell, this sign means 'don't dance with your hockey stick here'.

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Wednesday, March 26

More published pics

A friend of mine writes a local Montreal blog called nouveau*queer, and has played with a bunch of my photos to make lovely collages to illustrate her latest blog post. It's also a lot more info about the film screening I went to after the Choeur Maha concert a few weeks ago. The post is here.

Tuesday, March 25

Diary of a Still Pretty Crap Ice Skater, Part 3

Finally got to go skating again. Yes, it's been months, and my plan to become an expert over the winter didn't exactly happen, but I'm still glad I bought my own skates. Soon it will be too warm for skating. Already the change room and skate hire place is closed, and the ice was mostly pretty crappy, but there was still a big area with skatable ice, so I survived. It was easier this time. For a start I didn't have to do the horrible walk from the change room to the ice, which is always so precarious and terrifying on skates and icy paths, and secondly, I was there with a friend and my attention was more focussed on our conversation than on my skating, so I was more relaxed and didn't notice what I was doing, and did far better than the last time I went! Here's video proof:
video
With luck I'll manage to go again at least once before everything melts! And snowshoeing and cross country skiing are still on the wish-list too, but the chances of having time when the conditions are right are getting less and less as the weather feels more and more spring-y. Already the sun feels so warm, even though the temps are -5 or more, there's real warmth in the sun, and the birds have returned!

We Built an Igloo!

So on Saturday I had some friends over with the crazy idea of playing in the mountain of snow in my backyard, and then drinking mulled wine and hot chocolate (not necessarily together) afterwards. I had ideas of snow sculptures or something, but it was too cold. You need melty, sticky snow for snowpeople, apparently (I'm learning so much here!). But as the day before had been melty, the snow was quite dense and solid, which is apparently perfect igloo-building-snow. I had never considered the possibility of actually building an igloo. It is a foreign concept. But I'm into foreign concepts, and I had expert help and design advice from a couple of actual Canadians. Actually, Telyn did most of the shovel work cutting the blocks, and I just placed them, usually where I was told to. Emily helped by taking photos and playing with the puppy she was looking after for the day, preventing her from digging up our igloo or running away.
It was all going brilliantly until Emily slipped on the private ice skating rink we have developed out there, and had to go to hospital to check she hadn't broken any ribs. She hadn't, thankfully, but it will probably feel like it for a week or so. And it put a stop to our igloo building, so we never did get a roof on it, and I had to dismantle it the next morning so my neighbour could park his second car there, but we did bridge the door gap, and I'm very glad I can now add 'igloo building' to my list of experiences, and thankful to Emily and Telyn for humouring me and my crazy Australian snow-deprived ideas.

I'm now a (net) published photographer

So I got this random message a while back asking if I was ok with some website using one of my photos on flickr in their travel guide. This photo, in fact: And I was ok with it, as they link to it on flickr and publish my name with it. And today I was sent the link of the completed website. It's one of my Wreck Beach photos from Vancouver, and this website uses it as the icon photo for the Wreck Beach info, which is nice. It's not my favourite Wreck Beach photo though. This is my favourite:

Sunday, March 23

Revenge of the Librarians

Life continues to be crazy busy, but I have managed to update the photoessay that is my life on Flickr if you want to know what I've been busy doing.
To satisfy demands for pictures of me rather than random others, I will post this pic here though. Last night there was a "Revenge of the Librarians" party at Cagibi, which Telyn and I dressed up suitably for. My outfit came almost entirely from the Free Pile at the Rhizome (Free Piles are even better than thrift stores!) and I had many compliments, so I gather that "nerdy librarian" is a look I can do. I must remember this for future costume parties...

Thursday, March 20

Too Fast

Life is going way to fast to keep up with blogging right now, but I'm still managing to upload photos regularly. Photos from this month now include:

  1. Kim Zombik, Choeur Maha member and jazz singer extraordinaire, from Circo d'Inverno, a circus and music performance I went to unexpectedly last Saturday (Thanks Elvi!)
  2. The protest, march and many of the Marching Band from that same Saturday's Internation Day Against Police Brutality (including one of the poor old man a posse of police knocked down right in front of me, after Telyn and I had dexterously leapt sideways out of their way.)
  3. A random pic of a huge work machine thing that made so much noise I thought the world was ending when it came through the metro station while I was waiting for the last train last night.
  4. Some marching band friends playing in the metro after practice last Sunday
  5. A photo from the practice itself, which is held in an anarchist library.
  6. Hairdressing and poker playing at last night's surprise party for Rosin.
  7. Cooking at Maison Laurier for Food not Bombs on Sunday.
  8. And older pics of things like huge piles of snow from the biggest snowstorm of the season (or any season in the last 30 years), the metro, nuit blanche, colourful construction, climbing Mount Royal and random Montreal street scenes and statues.

Saturday, March 15

Hot Hot Gossip and other events

I went to see another Edgy Women thing last night - this time it was Hot Hot Gossip - the live-action lesbian soap-opera comedy.

It was highly amusing! And full of lots of lovely lesbian drama! See, doesn't this look familiar? At least to some people...

Unfortunately it was only episodes one and two of a 6 part series, so I'm going to have to go back and see the sequel when they get around to putting it on! And I hope the third and final part gets staged before I have to leave for the UK in June, or I'll never hear the end of the story!

After the show I stayed around to chat to all the people I knew who came, which was many. I am no longer surprised when I know bunches of people everywhere I go here now. And that most of the people I know know most of the other people I know, even though I met them in completely different places. This is now normal to me. However, standing around chatting to half the performers and special guests of the arts festival you're attending is still a surprising experience for me. But that's what we did. Ivan E. Coyote, a brilliant storyteller (see here selling books that I now really want to read) and Lazlo Pearlman, whose solo show I am going to see tonight, are both amazing wonderful people I am glad I have had conversations with.

And then today, there is a skill share at the Co-op sur Genereux that I appear to be failing to go to (I'll definitely be there tomorrow!), a march against police brutality at which I am supposed to serve Food not Bombs food or provide anarchist marching band support (after only one rehearsal, I'm not actually up to *playing* for the march, but I'm good at moral and photographic support!) and then I just got a phone call inviting me to a show that one of my fellow Choeur Maha members is singing in, so I'm going to that first.
And then tonight is Lazlo's show, and tomorrow I have the skill share at the co-op, including another theatre workshop that was so much fun last time, and then Food not Bombs, which I have a feeling I will be missing, as it clashes, and a marching band rehearsal in the evening. And I have a feeling there's something else on as well, but that's probably enough for one day anyway.
And I wonder why I feel like I need a weekend in the middle of the week...

Thursday, March 13

The Mountain.

After only three point five months in Montreal, I finally climbed The Mountain today. Mont-Royal, the lump in the middle of town that gives this town its name. It's affectionately referred to as a mountain, but it's only a hill really. Still, there's quite a bit of uphill involved in climbing it, but the view at the top is rather pretty.
And the reason that I had time to do such frivolous things as climb mountains was that there was a mix-up with my day's worth of classes and they got cancelled. I didn't find out about this until I had already trekked all the way to Laval (45 minutes away, if I go early enough for the good bus!) so I got to turn around and trek all the way back, which was ok, as I should get paid for the day anyway!
Once home, I sent out an email to everyone I could think of who might have some time to do something with the wonderful sunnyness of the day, and the fact that it was only -10 or so, and ended up getting invited to climb The Mountain with Telyn. And as it was lunchtime, and we were on the McGill campus, Telyn took me to the Midnight Kitchen, for an almost-free vegan lunch, which is something I think every university should have.
After Telyn had to return to student life after lunch, I had a chance to wander around town, which I don't often do, and go to the Frigo Vert for a little shopping, which I also never get to do. At least, not there. And then I came home to while away the hours on the internet.
So overall, today was good!
More pics on flickr, as usual.

To the Dark Side

So I did it. I joined Facebook. I know. I know I said I wouldn't. I know I have been heard to say 'Facebook is evil'. And I still think it is. However, like long-haul aeroplane rides, it seems it is currently a necessary evil in my life. I'm living in the country with the second largest number of Facebook users in the world. Apparently 1 in 4 people in this country are on facebook. And the 3 in 4 who aren't probably include all the people who are too old/young/technophobic to be on it at all. People don't exchange email addresses or phone numbers anymore, they ask 'are you on Facebook?'. I say 'Oh, I didn't know about ' and people respond 'Really? It's on Facebook'. It was all just getting a little much for me.
So yesterday, I joined.
And my first impressions are that it's a great way to waste time. But also to find out about things that are going on. And I'm utterly astonished by just how many of the profile pictures of my new 'friends' are *my* photos, stolen from my flickr page! I had no idea! I'm rather flattered, really! Obviously I need to befriend someone as snap-happy as I am so that I too have large numbers of interesting photos of myself to choose from for profile pictures. I never have an interesting profile pic, because I'm just not particularly good at remembering to take photos of myself.
Or other people, I thought, but apparently I was wrong!
So feel free to search and befriend me. But I think I'd rather not have any pokes, gifts or other silly unnecessary pixels. I'd much rather an email (or blog comment) with actual real news telling me where you are and what you're doing!

Monday, March 10

Random Observations.

  1. The highest point of the blanket of snow that is currently covering my backyard outside my window here is at eye level when I'm sitting here at my desk. This is a record breaking year, apparently.
  2. My internal french-monologue has started frequently speaking with a quebecois accent-la.
  3. Changing to summer time (as we did on Sunday morning, apparently) is fantastic, and I love long, sunny evenings, but somehow my body clock cannot be convinced that it's nearly night time right now, and that I'm running late for our jam session, which usually starts *after* dark...

Another Review of Saturday's Concert

Here's a far better review of our concert on Saturday night, which also uses a heap of my photos! (Not randomly though, rather because Nouveau*Queer is the oh-so-useful blog of a friend and fellow Maha chorister!)

Edgy Women!

So last night I spent first singing with Choeur Maha and Clara Furey, then seeing films and partying all as part of the Edgy Women Festival at Studio 303.
The concert went brilliantly, especially considering we had learned a few of the pieces ridiculously quickly. I didn't help much - after months of robust health, I've managed to pick up a cold this week, which chose Saturday afternoon to hit me. I wasn't too bad until after about our second number, when my right ear chose to completely block up, leaving me with no idea of how loud or soft I was singing. I'm told I didn't embarrass myself, though, but I was probably singing quietly, just to be on the safe side. I know I later found myself talking too quietly in conversation for the same reason!
My pics are on flickr, as per usual, but here are some of my favourites:
Choeur Maha, resplendent in red and black, going oooooh:
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Three of us Maha people also did a bit of backup singing (no doo-wops involved, I promise) for one of Clara's pieces, which was great, but of course, I don't have any pictures of that, because I was performing. Here's Clara, though, being edgy solo:

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After the concert, there was a short break, and then the next event started - a short film session called 'Juggling Gender'.There were two short films and a discussion with the two artists, one a short comedy about transmen, and the second a documentary about Circus Amok and bearded lesbian extraordinaire Jennifer Miller:

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Lazlo Pearlman was the other artist, and next Saturday night is doing a show called 'Madame Pierre's Other Tongue', which I am definitely going to see!

After the films and discussion we all (well, the brave, hardy souls among us) slogged through the worst blizzard in 30 years (or something) to get to Le Sociale, the venue for the after-party. Which probably would have been a lot better attended if said blizzard hadn't been blowing. It's a real pity, as the proceeds were all going to a local queer youth organisation. Still, those of us who were there had fun, although I decided I wasn't having quite enough fun to make it worth missing the last metro!
All in all another brilliant Montreal evening, and more motivation for me to work hard on getting back here after the summer!

Wednesday, March 5

Good Things

Good Thing #1
I have a clarinet! To borrow while I'm here. I got to play it last night at our jam session, and discovered I can play You Are My Sunshine in just about any key that doesn't have a ridiculous number of sharps or go into the upper register (I realise this narrows it down considerably!) I need to train my lip muscles a little more before playing anything in the upper register. Not surprisingly, after a 10 year hiatus (I stopped doing a lot of things about 10 years ago, it seems) they are a little out of shape. But I always preferred the sound of the lower register anyway!
So now I need to think of things to practice! It's odd, because my fingers remember what to do fine, but my lips put me right back in the beginner category. So I squeak like a beginner, but can remember all the fingerings for all the notes. It's an odd combination.

Good Thing #1b
**Geek Alert**
Speaking of You Are My Sunshine, this is one of my favourite Voyager moments. A hologram and a Borg singing a duet...


Good Thing #2
The supermarket that sold marmite, and then didn't sell marmite, is selling marmite again! Yay! Ok, so it's not vegemite, but it's a decent (and apparently occasionally available) substitute, so I'm happy.

There are more good things, but there's also the not-so-good thing, which is that I have to leave for work in about 8 hours, and I still have to fit in some lesson preparation, lunch preparation and sleep preparation. And then the actual sleeping as well, if I ever get around to it.

Sunday, March 2

Nuit Blanche

Last's night's Nuit Blanche was great! I spent most of the evening at the Belgo building, which is a big old building downtown full of little (and not so little) galleries and studios. Including Studio 303, which is where we're performing next Saturday as well. We sang Pentatonic Alleluia while wandering up and down the stairs, which worked quite well, really, as it's a piece without structure. (Disclaimer: I'm kinda new to this videoing thing, and I really have to learn to let it run at least until the end of a phrase! Also, apologies that my slightly wavery 'I've just climbed three flights of stairs while singing' voice is the main one you can hear!')
video
We agreed to meet at the bottom after about 15 minutes of it, so we could coordinate the end of the piece, and then we sang Hide an Seek - an Imogen Heep song that we are still trying to get right. Last night wasn't the best venue for getting it right, but here's a snippet anyway:

video

The rest of the evening I spent wandering the halls of the Belgo seeing other art and performances, which was fun. One gallery was full of things that vibrated - sections of the wall, a table with puddles of dancing water on it, and this:
The place was full of interesting people, including a few queeruption people I hadn't seen since Vancouver, which was good! I really haven't connected with queeruption people here much at all, even though it is, indirectly, the reason I know most of the people I have met in this town!
I finished off the evening by dropping into the Musée d'Art Contemporain, which was open until 5am, and full of people who weren't nearly as interesting as the people in the Belgo building!

All my Nuit Blanche photos (the still kind) on flickr here.

Saturday, March 1

music (up) to my ears

So here are my current musical projects and prospects:

  1. Choeur Maha is doing a very short gig tomorrow night as part of Montreal's Nuit Blanche - an all-night festival of all things cultural. We'll be singing an alleluia in a stairwell, which should be interesting.
  2. On Monday I'm hosting our weekly all-girls-blue-grass-jam-band-jam. We plan to perform sometime soonish in the 'Monthly Mess' organised by indyish.com
  3. Next Saturday, International Women's Day, Choeur Maha is also performing at the Edgy Women Festival, in a show with Clara Furey, a local singer/songwriter/dancer and generally interesting person. The choir is doing a piece of two with her, as well as a bunch on our own, and then I'm doing one song with her on my own. There was supposed to be more of us, but I was the only one who actually turned up to the rehearsal. It's exciting, and a little scary as it's a while since I've performed outside of the safety and relative anonymity of a chorus.
  4. I've been offered a clarinet! Just to borrow, but that's enough. I got to play one briefly last week, and discovered that my lip piercing is not really a problem, and then a friend from choir mentioned she had a clarinet just sitting about at her place not doing anything. So I'm going to borrow it and join the anarchist marching band.
  5. As part of the small-ensemble work for the Maha show in April, a group of about 8 of us are doing a Quebecois folk song called Ziguezon. I get to play the spoons! (proper, wooden ones, that is, designed for Quebec folk music, except when we don't have them handy, and I steal wooden spoons from the kitchen...).
  6. And then finally, also as a Maha small ensemble, there are 4 of us preparing a version of Leonard Cohen's I'm Your Man. The plan is to also do it for the Transpride festival that is on around the same time as the Maha gig. We're not entirely sure how we'll do it yet. We're still trying to decide whether to do it big-band showtune style (anyone got a big-band we can borrow?) or sleazy lounge-bar style. Or, maybe, like this version from Michael Buble, we could do both at once!
Have I mentioned that I love this town?