Monday, 30 July 2012

Day 23

I'm trying hard to keep this post about the book, but it has been such a dream come true day, I think I may just write what is on my mind tonight.

To get the full story, we need to go back a few years....

When I was in grades 11 & 12, my mom and I had seasons tickets to the Windsor Spitfires (just a few years ago). It was the Habs winning the Cup in 86 that got me into hockey. We weren't really a hockey family. I didn't know who Peter Puck was. I was behind, but quickly caught up, thanks to Ken Dryden's books.

The Spitfires went to my high school. Adam Graves, Peter Ing, Darryl and Darren Shannon, Glen Featherstone...They won the OHL championship in 88 and just missed winning the CHL. Brilliant team.  My favourite team they played was the Peterborough Petes (Corey Stillman still my favourite defenseman who played for them).

I went to Trent U in Peterborough. My treat to myself was seasons tickets to the Petes. Great players on those teams, too - Jassen Cullimore (about a foot taller compared to Corey Stillman), Chris Pronger.

My birthday treats during my 4 years there were game worn jerseys of Stillman (#3) and Cullimore (#22). My prized possessions.

During my years in Peterborough, I went Trent with a few players (one also hit me with a puck at a game - thanks, Jamie). I also developed my own stat sheet to keep me busy during the games. I was not a 'puck bunny'. I was competely a fan of the game. My stat sheet kept track of not just the usual goals and penalties, but also lines and face-offs (everything except how many times Pronger touched his helmet, as my seat neighbours said). I wish I could remember what it looked like. I could have made a fortune.

I also auditioned to sing the US National Anthem at a game. I won. You see, I wanted to prove myself at that game against the Detroit jr team. I knew the coaches - Paul Maurice and Pete Deboer. I went to school with them. Pete was a great guy. Paul was, too, but I just knew Pete better.

My mom booked time off to come and see me sing. I bought her ticket. The day before, I called the Pete's head office and was told that they forgot about me and gave the game to someone else. I was brokenhearted. They gave my mom tickets to another game (I ended up singing 2X that year), but not for Pete and Paul. But, I did sing the game Cullimore came back from the World Juniors one year - a year they didn't place. A real tragedy for Canadian hockey fans that year.

I loved hockey with a passion then. When I wasn't doing school work, I was reading about hockey (my final paper for a 4th year history class was how the '72 series helped to heal the relations in our country and helped us to be united). I could name starting line ups for NHL teams, including naming what junior team they played for). Then I got married and had children. I didn't have time or money to put into hockey anymore. But I had my jerseys.

My jerseys stayed with me always. They were the most treasured items I owned. I wore them in all pregnancies. I wore them out and about. I guess because of my love for the Petes, and the years I lived in Peterborough, these jerseys became my comfort items.

I didn't realize until I started writing this blog that I lost Stillman's jersey when I lost Cullimore's in the house fire. Honestly, they are the only items I miss that I lost. It still makes my heart sad.

There's the background which makes today seem so surreal.

I asked for and was given the assignment by SNAP Haldimand-Norfolk to photograph the Stanley Cup celebrations in Simcoe (John Stevens, assistant coach) and Nelson Emerson (player development) both of the LA Kings. The Waterford event was awesome, in the true sense of the word. In Simcoe - I was Press and got into a press conference - one of the first few to see the beloved Stanley Cup on our hometurf.

Jassen Cullimore was there (he won a Cup with Tampa a while back - and dang, he is TALL without his skates). I finally introduced myself after all these years. Who would have thought that my love of hockey, my love of the Petes, would have culminated in ME covering a press conference with the Stanley Cup? Rob Blake was also there, and the formidable Red Kelly who won 8 Cups, including 4 with the Red Wings. He told a story of how his newborn child left a load in the Cup when he had it! Hilarious.

I introduced myself to Nelson Emerson by apologizing for burning his old house down. Yep - the house we lost, we were told, he used to live in. He said no, but it belonged to his sister. I asked him to send my apologies to her then (but I did it myself when I arrived in Waterford - beautiful sisters he has). I didn't have the heart to tell anyone about Stillman or Cullimore's jerseys.

Waterford had things so well arranged, so well prepared and had a fantastic turnout - more than Simcoe did, actually. The looks in those kids eyes were beautiful. I took some great pictures...better pictures than I did in Simcoe, actually. The camera was acting up there (it wasn't me, I swear). But Waterford was where the real action was, anyway.

I did get my picture with the Cup. We got our family pictures with the puck - we could TOUCH it! It felt sacreligious, almost.

Maybe it's because I'm older now, maybe it's because of my lookout on life because of our past year, but I can't say that what I did today was a 'dream come true'. It was incredible, amazing, something I couldn't have EVER dreamed would happen to me...but maybe the fact that I never did dream it, I can't say it's a dream come true. Who would have thought I'd become a photographer, anyway?

The question is now, how to relate it to Mr. Plummer's book. I think it is more of a dream come true that I get to attend Stratford, that I've been backstage at 2 of their theatres. My kids are in a promo video for them. I'm in a promo video for them (to be released). I've met Mr. Plummer, seen him on stage. I've met other actors/actresses - my favourite males and females (except one who shall remain my secret). I love this town!

Did my dreams just change? My love of theatre has always been there, since I was a wee girl. My mom raised me telling me about Stratford stories, sharing our love for Mercutio...

Nelson Emerson is the first player to play in the NHL from Waterford (coincidentally, he played jr B in Stratford - go figure). Then he received a scholarship to Bowling Green, from where he was drafted. No OHL experience. As his sister told him, it is every Canadian's dream to bring the Cup home. The pics of these hockey children (and their parents) were of total bliss. The local supermarket gave out free hotdogs and drinks. Breyers ice cream gave out free ice cream (as Breyers did in Simcoe's festivities).

He brought it home. I told one of my kids that it was like Paul Nolan, from a little town off 500 in Saskatchewan (if I remember correctly) and starred in a Tony-nominated musical. Who would have thought? I do think starring in a show equals winning the Cut, by the way - if you have to win by ballot, getting nominated IS like winning the Cup.

And what about Mr. Plummer? He won his Oscar (finally). A boy from a Montreal (ok, not such a small town), a principal actor at Stratford (small town) - he brought his Oscar home (well, maybe his Florida or Connecticut home). But, he will always be Oscar winning actor in his bio.

What did I learn tonight? Photojournalism is cut-throat. Jeepers.I got pushed aside by other photographers who completely ignored me. I must needs becomre more aggressive.  The volunteers in Simcoe, and especially Waterford, were open and kind (and pointed out great shots to me). I can't live with tunnel vision. I probably missed at least a couple of shots because I refused to stand in someone's way. In the end - it was the pictures of the kids waiting, looking, and touching the Cup that I wanted to capture. In that, I was a success. When they are posted on-line, I'll post the link. Two pictures in particular stands out above the rest. The light in their eyes - their hockey dreams in their was an honour to be able to save those moments.

I was with the family from 1130-7:00 tonight taking pictures and hanging out.

It was a great day. No complaints (except the other journalists). I just wish I could have worn my Cullimore jersey (it even had a skate cut mark on it...and fighting straps...sigh).

But who would have thought that my love of the Petes from Windsor days, prepared me for the Cup today? It IS surreal. I wouln't have belived it if someone told me 20 years ago.

Nya:weh for my paths in life meeting up today. I even met someone who was in Stratford over the weekend (a teacher from Brantford). It's becoming that Stratford people are finding me as much as I'm finding pregnant or breastfeeding or midwifery women. You attract what you love in life, I suppose.

And I still love hockey - and miss my jerseys...c'est la vie.

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Day 24

Pow wow weekend on Six Nations and I brought "Chris" along with me, again. I was not as busy as yesterday, but a couple friends/clients needed a shoulder, and an ice pack. I am glad I was there for them.

I finished the end of "book 1" and started "book 2". Reading the death of his mom hit hard.

There's a quote from the book (which I can't pull out right now because I'm in bed and others need to sleep without a light) about why it isn't until the end of someone's life that you realise you need them so terribly. And one other one about just waiting for death to come. Or maybe, that's how I read it.

The last time I read this book was a few months after the kids granda died (Jeff's dad - long bout of cancer). We were called to his bedside 3x telling us that it was his last night. How bad/good/terrible it was that he made it through those bad nights. When he did pass, they weren't there, Jeff and Ken. The other was, though. And his beloved wife. Oh, how they loved each other!

I won't delve into family politics for fear of being sued, but it was tough on all of us. Our brains/emotions/mentalities were still traumatised from the fire and the fallout from it. It was rough but we got through. Or, for Jeff, still getting through.

When Mr P talked about the funeral, I know a bit of how he felt. When my mémé passed away, I was pregnant with my oldest. She died quite suddenly. What finished her off was flesh eating disease. When that was diagnosed, she gave up. I don't blame her. She was 94. Good French Canadian blood!

Our "family" church was St Anne's in Tecumseh, Ontario. I had been to many a family wedding, first communion, Stations of the Cross, and funerals there. Then a new priest came in.

He didn't know mémé. At all. What he said in his speech was static, plain, English (not that I would have understood French, mind) but mémé was Québécoise to the core. She used to be the cook a lumberjack camps when she was 16, in the bush in Québec. That's where she met Napoléon, my pépé. She was so proud when, at age 10, I won the very first French student of the week in my class. She was perfect with children of any age. Her home canned pickled beets were the best. Still are. And her baked beans & ragoût. Aaaahhhh. They are still my favourite meal. She sewed on a push-pedal sewing machine, never told me to be quiet, always had an extra hug. At the end, after I was married, she would turn to Jeff and say in French, "You are a lucky man. She is beautiful."

But also being near the end and her memory going, she would ask about her children, some of whom had already passed onto the other side. She would grieve them all over again

The priest didn't know this. He talked with some family members and write his talk from that info. But it was cold, no heart. He didn't know her, how could he speak like that, so lightly, of one of the most important people in our lives?

They did play my dad & my & (I think) mémé's favourite hymn as we followed the casket out: "How Great Thou Art." we left halfway through the second verse with me still singing/crying. Jeff didn't like that - my continuing to sing part.

I sang that hymn at his dad's funeral with our niece. I told his dad I wanted to sing it at his funeral. He said that alone was a reason to stay alive! We had a unique and quite honest relationship, when we were alone. As Jeff's illness got worse, our immediate family's relationship with him and his wife slowly disappeared. Just like with my parents. It's just easier not to talk when all you want to do is complain. And complaining gets us nowhere.

In this section of the book, we also read about the fall of the English Quebecers. The rise of the proud Québécois. We read how Montreal's mayor did not want to be a part of WW II.

The rise and fall of radio plays was an interesting tidbit on CBC history. How he met William Shatner, Oscar Peterson. Incredible!

I didn't know Toronto was such a boring city at that time.

Mr P was also a shy fellow. Even if he did have a relationship with a married woman. He writes of being completely clothed listening to a completely naked Ms Barrymore who was laying on a bed.

He writes of the strong women who led his life in literature, music, sports...I think I would have loved to have their influences in my life. They seemed well-rounded. His mother and aunt guided him into acting, getting him backstage to meet the stars.

Hmm, I wonder if that's a thing my kids will say about me...I'm trying. Stratford - there's been a couple do backstage tours, meet & greets with cast. I also helped Dakota get into a Simple Plan video and Braeden backstage for Barenaked Ladies twice. I think Luke and Cordelia are set on meeting everyone and anyone at Stratford Festival. That is turning out to be a nice surprise. I didn't think they'd get this into it. I'm very pleased. I guess holding a bloodied sword & a severed head by the lead (Graham Abbey in Cymbeline) helped clinch it for Luke. Plus, Graham said he'd been on the stage for the first time at Stratford when he was Luke's age (then 10).

I also learned in today's reading that Québécers became priests to dodge the draft. That these priests also were incredible skiers down Mount Royal. And so were he and his mom.

When the reading stopped today, he was leaving radio to move to Bermuda to work at a year round rep company. Not a bad gig.

And, lastly for tonight, he talked a out great jazz. I love that jazz. See previous posts (with YouTube links).

I drank 2 cokes at the pow wow I worked at today. I can't sleep!

I shall try again. Nite.

Saturday, 28 July 2012

25 Days and Counting

I am going to see A Word or Two in 25 days. It will be a day by myself in beautiful Stratford. A treat, to be sure. A trip to the Exhibition is in store, too.

It's been far too long since I solemnly declared that I was back. It is a busy household in which I live. My younglings in Willy Wonka were fantastic. Luke, as Mr Bucket, and josh, as Charlie Bucket, brought the house down each night with their swinging duet of, "Think Positive.". Or, at least made me cry each show...

Cordelia was an Oompa Loompa. She had that certain je ne sait quoi. Claire, the director, said after most shows, someone invariably would come up to her and say, "Who was the one Oompa...?" "That would be Cordelia." She put her heart into each song each performance. Which is saying something, too, because the week it opened, she had 2 dress rehearsals (ballet included), a preview, show Friday & Saturday night, matinee Sunday then ballet recital Sunday night. I had no idea they were going to be the same weekend. They also had 2 shows Tuesday and Thursdays for the local schools. She rocked it every night.

I became the unofficial photo-documenter of the rehearsal and shows for Willy Wonka. Thousands of pictures. I loved it.

Dakota was also on stage at school. He was in The Music Man and The Laramie Project. I loved both, but Laramie was exceptional. Dakota's best friend at school is lesbian. Her sexuality is not an issue at their school. Awesome. Not so in Laramie. It was heartbreaking.

Braeden also made his flute debut at the spring concert. He has a gift. I can't believe he was only playing since February. I played for year's before I sounded that good.

I became an official photographer for the local SNAP newspaper (Halimand/Norfolk). No pay. No matter. I'm having a blast meeting people, going to social events. My intrepid assistants usually attend with me (younglings). I'm having a blast.

I have been published a few times, too. In and for Check them out (ie google).

I have been to a few shows in Stratford this season. I wish I lived closer and could go more. So far, I have seen: You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown, Cymbeline, Pirates of Penzance, 42nd Street, Machomer, and Henry V. I can't pick favourites. Sorry. Singing men vs Shakespearean men? That is far too close to call.

But, I love men who can sing.

And recite Shakespeare.

See my issue?

Cymbeline was awe-inspiring. The best fight scene I have seen to date. It was exquisite. Luke and I went to the stage door where Graham Abbey proceeded to give Luke a tour of backstage (and I) including holding the bloodied sword, a cut-off head, and seeing the crew start to change the scenery from one show to the next. We also saw the laundry being taken to the wash. Every part of a production is important. The acting is only what we see.

The kids and I also started a group I've named, Kids4Bard. Where the idea germinated was from Bard on the Bus. They are a travelling group from Driftwood Theatre who visit towns and cities to perform. This year was A Midsummer Night's Dream. My favourite! And Lear.

My idea was/is to take a play and break it down. We started with characters. Then we did scenery. I want them to see something other than the final acting performance.

We read about them and designed costumes based on what we learned. Braeden also designed a now and sword. They looked great.

On our second night, we had 3 others join us: Sharon (one of my midwife co-workers), and 2 of her daughters (one 5, the other over 20 who went to Emily Carr for art). They helped us with our scenery and our paper dolls.

Instead of us acting them out, I thought we'd start just acting with the puppets.

We didn't get done as much as I would have liked, but on July 19, we took or sets (on bristol board), and people that were finished or cut out, to see Driftwood's production. Dakota and Braeden volunteered as ushers. We added another child to our numbers, too. It was great.

The show was spectacular. It was a musical. A brilliantly acted and sung musical. I can't say enough good a out it. I ordered the cd and bought a shirt. I love men who can sing. Oh, sorry. But they were SINGING Shakespeare!

We spent what was supposed to be a few minutes with the cast, but turned out to be around 20 minutes with most of them. They loved the sets and our "cast" of dolls. I was told by a few of them that it was great to be doing this with them. If they weren't interested , I wouldn't be doing it with them.

One of the cast is an assistant fight director (swords) who Braeden immediately loved, of course. It was a wonderful night for all of us.

Kids4Bard is now on twitter and Facebook. Follow if you would like. We are open. Also, we have the gmail account

In there, I also took part in a webinar with the RSC about teaching Shakespeare to kids. I learned so much. Most importantly, I learned what I had to do to get out of myself to help the kids. Namely, as the wonderful Sean Arbuckle would call, movement (not dancing). In time, we will get there.

My kids have also been sending questions to the Stratford Q&A's on Facebook. We have learned so much! It's been great watching the wheels in their heads turn to think of something new to ask. Nya:weh to Lisa and Christi for reminding me of the days and members.

Which brings me back to my 25 days. I am reading Mr P's book again. I will blog everyday about what I read. The last time, I looked for authors and actors, this time will be on Mr Plummer himself.

Tonight's reading showed me that I am not related to him on my maternal grandmother's side. My dad's family is from Quebec and the Jesuits knew how to keep records! We will see what happens when I do my paternal grandfather's side.

Mr P is an only child with much maternal/womanly influence on him. But this influence also included an aunt who was a world leader if congenital heart defects in the early 20th century. These women were not passive. They were acclaimed sportswomen, too. And well read. Very well read.

They were rich. They went to concerts, and theatres. They listened on the radio to operas from the USA. Such a simpler life than 100 cable stations which show rare value.

Reading this book has not only inspired my love of reading, but in turn, is helping my children's love of literature grow. Kids4Bard has been a great past time for them, for us, this summer. I'll continue as long as they want.

And Braeden will love to read Mr Leacock (whose book I have misplaced, again). He loves the oddness of life. The books will be perfect for him.