Monday, April 25, 2011

A Piece of Heaven

Unlike last year, when the warm weather arrived in March, spring has taken its time arriving here in Nova Scotia. That said, I think it’s finally here to stay!

To mark Easter and both our birthdays, my DH and I spent this past weekend at our family cottage. It’s on a small, secluded lake with not another building for miles, and to us, it’s our little slice of heaven.

My father, his brother and my cousins built the cottage twenty years ago. Since then, it’s hosted countless good times. The best Christmas turkey I ever ate was cooked in the old wood stove we used to have there. My father has tapped the maples and made syrup there. The road is usually impassable by car in the winter, and the first trip in each year is the real beginning of spring.

This weekend, Dad picked Mayflowers for me as he does every year.
Echo and Chance swam to their hearts’ content and came home two tired, blissful Tollers.

We had a delicious Easter dinner of roast beef with all the trimmings, with cheesecake for a birthday dessert. Delicious!

In January, I decided that my word for this year would be GRATITUDE. Among the things I’m grateful for, a place where I can wake in the night to hear owls calling, swim with loons, hear woodthrushes singing at sunrise, reconnect, rejuvenate and celebrate, is very near the top of the list.

As is my mom’s cheesecake!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

A Night At The Theatre: West Side Story

I’ve always had a soft spot for musicals, so, when I got the chance to attend Neptune Theatre’s production of West Side Story last night as part of their Word of Mouth program, I was delighted.

The classic tale of star-crossed lovers, inspired by Romeo and Juliet, takes place against a background of racial prejudice and street violence in Manhattan. The Sharks, a newly formed gang of Puerto Rican immigrants, are battling for turf with the Jets, an established gang of white Americans, many of whom are the children of immigrants themselves. Though the story is told with a lot of street slang that’s dated to our ears, it doesn’t matter. The conflict is timeless.

Tony, the founder of the Jets, now out of the gang, falls in love with Maria, the young sister of Bernardo, commander of the Sharks. Their love sparks a gang war, with tragic consequences. It isn’t difficult to imagine the story playing out on inner-city streets today.

I expected to see a lot of high-octane dancing and passionate acting, and I wasn’t disappointed. Choreographer Jim White has done a masterful job. I was sitting near the front of the hall, and the energy onstage hit me in waves. Chino (Dani Jazzar), second in command of the Sharks, radiated danger. Tomboy Anybodys (Allison MacDougall) made me smile. The Jets’ number “Gee, Officer Krupke” had me laughing out loud. In particular, Stephenos Christou as Maria’s brother Bernardo and Dayna Tietzen as his girlfriend Anita came close to stealing the show. Together they sizzled, and separately, Tietzen’s passion matched Christou’s menacing anger.

Anwyn Musico as Maria brought a lovely mix of innocence and charm to the role. Her strong soprano voice handled the music very well. I felt that she could have showed more angst at times, but she poured plenty into the final scene of the show, where she needed it most. Her Tony, Liam Tobin, impressed me with his handling of the music as well. Though Tobin didn’t give Tony the edge one might expect from a former gang leader, he still shone. I couldn’t help wishing the story could end happily for him and Maria, and isn’t that what a tragic romance should do? As a whole, this show was a real treat.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

The Boys of Summer are Back!

Well, beat the drum and hold the phone - the sun came out today
We're born again, there's new grass on the field
Roundin' third, and headed for home, it's a brown-eyed handsome man
Anyone can understand the way I feel

Centre Field, John Fogerty

The major league baseball season opened last night. I settled in with an Oatmeal Stout and watched the Toronto Blue Jays trounce the Minnesota Twins in a 13-3 romp. I'm born again, there's new grass on the field.

I fell in love with baseball during the two university years I spent in Montreal. The Expos were in their heyday then, with Gary Carter, Andre Dawson, Tim Raines and company. I used to listen to Dave Van Horne and Duke Snyder call the games on the radio and dream of warm summer days, even in the doubtful weather of early April.

I enjoy the speed of hockey, but I enjoy the pauses in baseball. It's a different kind of drama, with the buildup before each pitch, each at-bat like a scene in a novel. It also appeals to the history buff in me, with time for interesting tidbits about games and players past.

Last night's game had all the best ingredients - home runs, flashy defense, speed on the bases, and the right team won! Three cheers for the Boys of Summer!