Friday, January 5, 2024


 I guess it’s the season. Being stuck in the house for months has that effect on me.  I’m not a cold weather outdoor sort of person, which sort of begs the question “Then why do you live in the country? In Canada? In winter?” Well, in my defence, I moved here in April, and I’m impulsive by nature. I was not thinking that far ahead.  In summer, I always remind myself that I’ll want to remember these beautiful hot days during the long winters ahead.  Then winter comes, and  I spend my days fixing things around the interior of the house. It’s a big house, admittedly, so until last winter there was a fair amount to fix. I’d always imagined I would do all the work myself, but that idea dissolved last January when I started putting in new windows. The windows here are massive. Michael, whose company installed them, is extremely tall. I’m guessing 6 foot 8.   I don’t think he’s as tall as the windows.  They’re a real showstopper, no doubt about it.

Once I’d painted the exterior (indigo),  painted the interior (white), and installed new kitchen counters (blue) and sink (white), there was precious little to do. I didn’t want to get caught up in that endless cycle of demolition and renewal that keeps home improvement magazines afloat, so I’ve been strict about what I’ll do and not do.

In 2023/24,  I reached Peak Reno.  Yes, there are things I’d like to replace, like light fixtures, but none so urgently that the anodyne ones that came with the house are in any danger of disposal.  I am really happy with the house.  It’s like me:  seasoned, but responding enthusiastically to even amateur efforts at remediation. This leaves me with at least 100 days of fallow time till I can get outside and have fun. Last year, I studied Scots Gaelic to while away the winter.  I always do better at languages that bear no resemblance to any I have a passing acquaintance with.  So now I can amuse myself by saying aloud “Madainn mhath, a caraid. Ciamar a tha thu?” and respond, shaking my head sadly, “Tha fuar. Chan eil snog”.  My Scots relatives are dubious.  They’re from the eastern side  of Scotland and speak Doric, which is what you often hear when people are imitating Scotsmen. It’s based loosely on English and has a great many native speakers. Gaidhlig (Gaelic) has probably … 12? 13? I imagine that all of them will be on hand to welcome me if ever I go to the Isle of Skye.

But to return to  the subject of this blog post,  and my 100 fallow days.  I’m feeling very energetic, despite having suffered memory loss due to Covid. So I decided that I’d like to do my Masters in Italian. When  I came here, Italian dripped off my tongue like I was a native speaker. Either due to Covid or old age, even English doesn’t do that any more. So I called up the Istituto Italiano di Cultura in Toronto and sought their help. I would need it badly, it seemed.  Fortunately, they indicated they would lighten my wallet by only $320 in return for an intermediate review course over Zoom. Sold!

A dear friend who is a former Musicology prof expressed concern. Grad school was much more intense than Undergrad.  Had I thought about all the changes that had occurred at the University? I wouldn’t have my regular crew of well-meaning profs to encourage me. They have all retired…or died. Another Musicology friend feared I’d be that much older, with a crew of age 20-something classmates to support me and compete with me. A third Musicology friend, equally well-informed, said, “The hell with it! Just go. What’s the worst that can happen?”

So a plan is forming.  Next week I start my Istituto course. Now all I need is un po di coraggio ed un  sacco di bella fortuna.


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