Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The birthday weekend

Hi folks,

Our final day in Halifax -- we'll be heading to Clifton, NB tomorrow evening for a visit with some of my friends from the old Cannington days, plus surprise last-minute mini-house-concert. Then Lennoxville Friday and... presumably, home!

Just waiting for the laundry to finish up before heading to the last play-time with Lilly and Wyatt (boo hoo). But thought I'd catch you up on the birthday weekend while I waited.

Saturday afternoon, we visited Don's cousins in Dartmouth -- they're such a fabulous family. They were very happy about the engagement, and I don't think Becky stopped smiling once! Becky has also convinced me (very little arm-twisting necessary!) to come to her Open Field Retreat in January and do a workshop in finding your authentic voice -- I can't wait! It was an all-too-short visit with Becky & Jim, Hugh & Chris and Lois, plus a phone call from Deb in Salt Lake City. But it was lots of fun, and we'll be seeing them again soon, I'm sure.

In the evening, Don took me out for my Birthday Eve dinner, just up the road at The Brooklyn Warehouse -- our favourite in the area. Apparently, it's become many others' favourite too, because we had to wait a little bit for a table, and it was quite busy for most of our dinner. Oh well, we enjoyed some fancy cocktails at the bar, so all was well! :-) We shared an appetizer of to-die-for hummus and pita. Main course was steak for Don (he always has the steak there), and a vegan angel hair "carbonara" for me, with smoked tofu -- never had it before, but I'll be keeping an eye out, because it's amazing (Don the tofu-hater even liked it!). Washed down, of course, with a lovely French Pinot Noir. Remembering the last time we ate there -- and the painful waddle home -- we opted to skip dessert this time, but had some Monte Christo coffees instead. Mmm-mmm!

Sunday morning, we got up early (musicians' early, anyhow) for the weekly Breakfast Club breakkie at Athens -- I think there were about 14 of us there this week. Then, in honour of my birthday, I had a two hour nap. :-)

And then the "surprise" party (not really a surprise, since Lilly had broken the news several weeks ago, and had talked about it almost every day we were here) at Mom's house. Lilly still yelled "surprise" with great gusto, though!!! She had made me a card that wished me Merry Christmas (a running joke, since nobody is "allowed" to decorate or sing Christmas carols until after my birthday in this family -- which means she's been singing carols at the top of her voice since I arrived!), plus a very colourful play-clay sculpture of somebody swimming in the swimming pool. Her parents gave me a great wine diary and a bottle of Rioja Gran Riserva to start me off. Funny, friends Sheila and Hugh also brought me wine -- a local brew which looks lovely too. Mom opted for the non-alcoholic present, giving me a lovely wood-block serving tray with sailboats, some lovely "live love laugh" magnets, and a CD from her recent trip to Newfoundland.

Food and beverages? Well... this is where it gets interesting. Pot Roast. Yes, pot roast was the main course served at my birthday. For those of you who don't know, I am a vegetarian and have been one for about two decades. Who would serve pot roast at a vegetarian's birthday party? Yup, my mother. This explains so much on so many levels, doesn't it? ;-)

But she redeemed herself with the traditional Wright-family birthday cake -- angel food with chocolate drizzles. Don is a convert. We ate the final slices of leftovers for breakfast this morning. :-)

Ah... and perfect timing. The laundry just finished, and I have to dash over to play with my niece and nephew. Life is rough...


Thursday, November 26, 2009

For those of you who don't read The Brights' Blog...

[Copied verbatim -- feel free to ignore if a duplicate!]

Hello folks!

OK, yes, the rumours are true -- although it's probably the worst-kept secret in showbiz. The Brights are, indeed, well on their way to being The Brights for real and for true -- we are now officially engaged. :-)

In fact, the worst-kept secret kind of made itself made by being the worst-kept secret. At dinner with my family, Don let it slip we were trying to figure out where to get married. Ears were perked, champagne was poured, all was good. :-) So, the following morning, we broke it to the kidlets. Wyatt, of course, could have cared less... Lilly immediately shut the door to the hallway and started practising walking in a straight line with a bouquet full of flowers. So we might not know where or when or whatever... but apparently our flower girl is sorted out. ;-)

So... other than that... my Ontario cousin, Chris, was in Hali on business, so we had a grand family dinner at Tarah and Daniel's on Monday night! Funny how we have to go to a different province to see each other, aiyaiyai! But we had a great visit, and... ooh, perhaps a few too many bottles of wine between us all. Hey, it was the beginning of our time off, with family we love -- what the heck?

Tuesday morning, I took my nephew Wyatt to kindermusik. While he absolutely adores music (and has a great sense of rhythm), the greatest draw for him was the mosque being built next door! This boy is definitely going to be a crane operator when he grows up. Although he was equally as fascinated with the garbage pick-up on the way home: "someday, Wyatt ride on garbage truck!!!" Tuesdays are usually Wyatt's "special days" with Grammie -- this week, it was special day with Auntie Lyssy, and we made the most of it. :-)

After a fun day with my nephew, we headed west to Lunenburg, to visit with our friends Bob and Julia. We headed to the Tin Fish restaurant for dinner -- lovely food! -- where their friend Paul was playing, with his wife Eilidh and daughter were also visiting. A lovely evening. We stayed at Bob & Julia's beautiful house overlooking the sea, and stayed up into the wee hours catching up on everything. In the not-so-wee hours the next day, we headed back into Hali, through the drizzle and fog.

Wednesday night, we were on our own, and headed down to Quinpool to have dinner at the FANTASTIC "It's All Greek to Me". Cheezy name, yes, but the food and the service are INCREDIBLE!!! (It was all we could do to not sneak back there tonight.) Yes, I like food and wine. Yes, this is an amazing restaurant. Trust me. Go. :-)

Thursdays are usually Lilly's special days with Grammie -- which means I got her this week. She woke us up very gently this morning (she could teach grammie a few lessons in this department -- oops! did I use my outside voice?!?), with a whisper and a snuggle, and then she went to get Grammie to bring us coffee. I have obviously trained this child well!!!

Once coffee was administered, it was down to the kitchen to paint some ornaments for the Solstice tree. It's a running gag that there are to be no holiday decorations put up until after Sunday (my birthday), so she waxed eloquent on all the stores that have ignored the rule, plus the fact that her parents have put up a wreath already. It's fun that she's at the age where teasing is possible.

Her mom and dad were out looking at prospective schools for her for next year -- yikes, is she that old already?!? Her favourite so far is the Shambhala school, where they put on shows. Yup, my niece the showgirl, who'd-a thunk? (They also have a teeter-totter, which came a close second!)

Then it was a late visit to the bookstore (who can resist?), and dinner around the corner. It's now 10pm and we feel like it's 3am -- is that all the time with the kids, or are we finally feeling the effects of the champagne from the other day? Probably both...

Well, we're off to early slumber-land. Yes, believe it or not... Tomorrow is our final Nova Scotia show at Brookside Cottage -- so we'll need our beauty sleep. :-)

Thanks, as always, for reading,

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Singing for my supper

Hi folks!

I'm on tour with The Brights right now, but did a solo (or, sorta solo) gig thisafternoon at The Carleton in Halifax. It was a return visit to "Sing For Your Supper", a songwriters circle led every Saturday by our friend (and amazing songwriter) Kev Corbett. The lovely and talented Don Bray was also a guest artist, as was Jadea Kelly and surprise guest David Borins (who is touring with Jadea).

It was a fun afternoon, and there was a larger audience there than we'd had the last time we played the series. We made some new friends, and made a new connection that might prove profitable in the long run... (not saying it out loud yet, I don't want to jinx myself!)

Kev gave us a copy of his yet-to-be-released CD, Son of a Rudderless Boat, which I'm really looking forward to hearing. Jadea and David also gave us their CDs, so we'll have some pleasant listening material on the road, for sure! This was the first time I had heard either of them, and it was a treat. Although David did a song about disliking women who drink whiskey... he promised me it was just a song. :-) I countered, of course, with Not Enough Whiskey -- dodge, parry, thrust!

Unlike last time, we actually got to stay for dinner -- The Carleton has great food, let me tell you! Don had the ribs in... some sort of brandied BBQ sauce. I had curried penne with shrimps and scallops, mmm-mmm, and a nice Australian Merlot whose name I've already forgotten. Hopefully Kev will invite us back a third time, so we can sample more of the menu. :-)

Actually, we might be heading back next Monday, if we aren't busy visiting family -- David Myles is playing that night. We saw him at Shelter Valley this summer, and would love to see a full night of him!

Well, I'm off to tuck my niece into bed. Hope everyone's having a great weekend!


Friday, November 13, 2009

Remembrance Day - The Armed Man

Hi folks,

Wednesday, I played a Remembrance Day concert with the King Edward Singers in Barrie -- the piece was "The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace" by Karl Jenkins. A beautiful work, with some lovely cello passages (and some hair-raising bowing technique - aiyaiyai!). It was a real pleasure, although emotionally quite difficult, when I caught a glimpse of obvious veterans in the audience, and their reactions.

Of course, some of the reactions were quite humorous! In one movement, it's mostly men singing a capella with slow, quiet lines. Then all of a sudden, completely out of nowhere, there's a huge CRASH in the percussion -- everyone jumped, then looked around nervously and giggled a little bit. Not, perhaps, the effect Mr. Jenkins was looking for. ;-)

But it was a very moving piece, and I enjoyed participating in it. John Swartz of the Orillia Packet & Times pointed out that this is the same composer who wrote the music to that famous DeBeers diamond commercial campaign. I mentioned this to some friends as we were leaving (Sandra Ruttan, of the Amity Trio, and her husband Rob), who laughed at the irony... yes, trust a poet to notice. :-)

Well, I've just spent two days in front of the computer screen, trying to get some software fixed up for the Orillia Folk Society. I think I've had enough of computer screens! More later.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Hi folks,

Yes, been far too long... I've been a busy little cellist.

Just back from the Barrie Folk Festival -- visit The Brights' blogspot at http://brightsroots.blogspot.com/ for more details.

I also have to say that I really enjoyed hearing newcomer Jill Jambor play -- sweet voice, and great attitude! I think she'll go far.

In the meantime, I've been busy getting the new committee for the Orillia Folk Society up and running, getting ready for our upcoming tour, attempting to be a computer genius (!), and doing all the glamorous behind-the-scenes stuff -- argh. Will try to write more soon. Right now, though, my sweetie is insisting on taking me out for dinner -- who can resist?


Friday, May 1, 2009

CD Release -- or, why I've been too busy to rant recently!

Hi folks,

I realize those of you who know me must have been scratching your heads when I actually said -- TWICE -- that I was too busy to rant! But it's true, things have been a little nuts around here. Of course, there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and it'll be smacking me in the face on Sunday. :-)

I'm talking, of course, about the CD RELEASE!!! For those of you who have managed to escape my nattering so far, the fabulously talented (and downright sexy) guitarist and singer-songwriter Don Bray and I have a folk-roots duo called The Brights (Bray, Wright... do the 'Electric Company' thing and you'll figure it out). After almost two years of saying "we should really..." we finally have -- the debut CD "Live Love Dream" is back from the manufacturer's, and we're ready to unleash it on the world!

The CD Release concert takes place this Sunday, May 3, 2:00 pm at Hugh's Room in Toronto. Doors open at noon, with their delicious Sunday brunch menu available. Advance tickets are $14, through 416-531-6604 or www.hughsroom.com, or $16 at the door. Copies of the new CD will, of course, be available at the show -- and we'll be bringing our Sharpies! :-)

I will be spending Saturday tackling the last of the webcode (please oh please oh please let it be the last of the webcode!) making the CD available online via our website. Ah, the glamorous life of an independent musician... (Note to friendly neighbours -- I will be gladly accepting cocktails any time after 6pm!) Will keep you posted on the availability.

I'm hoping that -- once the blasted code is finished -- I'll have more time for my general ranting and raving. Keep your fingers crossed for whichever scenario you prefer. ;-)


Monday, April 27, 2009

More madness about the CBC

Hi folks,

Still insanely busy, but thought I'd pass on the latest from Friends of the CBC. I'll go back to ranting one of these days, I promise!


Dear Alyssa,

Let's tell Heritage Minister James Moore to come clean!

Despite their claims, the Conservatives have not provided CBC record levels of funding. Instead, the Conservative have actually cut CBC's funding by $63 million, according to the latest spending plan tabled by the government in Parliament on February 26th, 2009.

Telling the truth is the first step toward ensuring the CBC is given the funding it needs.

Take Action Now!


Something very troubling has arisen amid the deep cuts to the CBC's creative staff and programs.

Under intense questioning in Parliament and in response to messages from tens of thousands of CBC supporters, the Prime Minister and many of his MPs have made false statements.

Prime Minister Harper stated falsely in the House of Commons on March 25, that this year's Budget provides CBC with "record financing... in the order of $1.1 billion".

Many people who wrote to their Conservative MPs have shared the responses with us. These replies are modeled on statements the Prime Minister has made in Parliament.

Here is a typical example:

"As far as funding is concerned, the CBC is currently receiving the highest funding package in its history. This year the CBC will receive $1.1 billion of taxpayers' money."

This statement is false!

This development goes to the heart of integrity in public life. We should be able to expect our Prime Minister and his followers to tell us the truth.

The real story from the government's Main Estimates (their spending plan for the coming year) tabled on February 26 is that the government has cut CBC's funding in 2009/10 by $63 million – that's equivalent to a $79 million reduction in purchasing power when inflation is considered. And, since they were first elected, the Conservatives have cut the purchasing power of CBC's grant by $119 million (when inflation is taken into account).

I believe this is an indicator of the pressure being felt by the government, especially by those Conservative MPs who won by narrow margins in last autumn's election and who are hearing our message loud and clear.

We must work hard to maintain and increase that pressure. There is a golden opportunity to fight for the CBC this Wednesday (April 29) when Heritage Minister James Moore will be appearing before the House of Commons Heritage Committee.

This is an important occasion. It will be the first time MPs have had a chance to grill the Minister in detail since the CBC announced its cuts.

So I urge you to send a message to Minister Moore.

Please ask him to just tell the truth when he appears before the Heritage Committee. Telling the truth is the first step toward ensuring the CBC is given the funding that it needs.

Your message will be automatically copied to members of the Heritage Committee, your own MP, the Prime Minister and the other Party leaders.

After thousands of people have demanded that the CBC be adequately funded, the Conservative government is feeling the pressure. There is hope for a sustainable future for CBC. We can turn this hope into reality if we act together now.

Please send your message to Heritage Minister James Moore now!

Yours sincerely,

Ian Morrison
FRIENDS of Canadian Broadcasting

Monday, March 30, 2009

CBC Survival is Essential!!!

Hi folks,

I'm afraid I'm just too busy to compose one of my trademark rants, but this issue is too huge for me to remain silent. So I'm going to just cut and paste a few things in here.

First off, the letter I sent to the Right Horrible Prime Minister:

Right Hon. Stephen Harper
Prime Minister of Canada
80 Wellington Street
Ontario Ottawa K1A 0A2

Dear Prime Minister Harper,

I can't believe that the government of Canada would consider bailing out private broadcasters while leaving CBC to face a $200 million deficit with no help whatsoever. Please make sure CBC has the resources it needs to do its job.

Arts, Culture and Communication are the lifeblood of any country. When industry and economy are down in times such as these, Communication, Motivation and Inspiration are especially key -- not just to keeping us afloat, but speeding up our recovery.

Failing to properly fund our NATIONAL COMMUNICATOR is short-sighted, and, frankly, quite idiotic. Canada needs this unifying tool. Do not destroy it.

Alyssa Wright


Next, a petition request I received from Avaaz Canada:

Dear friends,

Canada’s media networks have all been slammed by the recession. But the government is reportedly considering bailouts for its friends at private companies CTV and CanWest, while forcing the CBC to drastically cut 800 staff and programming.

Our CBC is a national treasure, and a pillar of public−interest journalism in a country whose media is owned by a few large firms. We won’t hear an outcry from their media outlets, and the CBC is too principled to use its megaphone to make the case for itself. We are the only voice the CBC has.

We urgently need a massive public outcry to Save the CBC, click below to sign the petition and forward this email to everyone who might care about this:


The petition will be delivered directly to the government, through Parliament, ads, and stunts such as an airplane pulling a giant Save the CBC banner over Ottawa. In each case the number of signatures on the petition will be crucial to the effectiveness of the campaign, so let’s get as many people as possible to sign.

The CBC is facing a budget shortfall that amounts to just $6 per Canadian, but its request to the government for a bridging loan to cover this was denied. The deep cuts the CBC is making will damage the organization across the board, and they will not be the last. If we don’t stand up for the CBC now, it stands to die a death by a thousand cuts. Harper’s minority government is politically vulnerable – public outrage could turn the government around on this, but it has to happen now. Let's move quickly.

With hope,

Ricken, Lisa−Marie, Laryn and the whole Avaaz Canada team.


Next, the letter I received yesterday from Friends of Canadian Broadcasting:

CBC's creative people have just been through the week from hell.

The cuts announced last week will leave our beleaguered public broadcaster a shadow of its former self, especially in smaller communities where CBC is often the only option.

This is all so unnecessary, yet this may be only the beginning.

More cuts to CBC news are expected mid-April. And if Stephen Harper's hand-picked President cannot raise enough through a firesale of CBC assets, he says that even more cuts will be required.

But there is a glimmer of hope. I urge you to join with me to stoke it.

Viewers and listeners have been outraged by the events of the past week. We have bombarded our MPs with calls, letters and emails demanding action. A storm of protest has erupted in the House of Commons as a result, and the government is under intense pressure to prevent the announced cuts.

Please join with me to turn up the volume by sending a message to the Prime Minister today demanding action.

There is a simple and inexpensive solution to CBC's funding shortfall.

Among modern industrialized nations, Canada in near the bottom when it comes to investing in public broadcasting. The average is $80 per citizen and countries like Great Britain, Germany and Norway invest even more.

In Canada, our government provides only $33 per citizen. That's just not enough for CBC to serve as the public broadcaster Canadians want and need. The House of Commons Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage has recognized this and called for an increase of $7 per person - to $40.

Please join me to urge our government to bump up Canada's investment to at least half the average. That would mean only a $7 increase for each Canadian. Per year!

If we don't act today, the pressure on the government and the momentum we have built will be lost.

Seven dollars is a small price to pay to keep our CBC.

Please act now... before it's too late.

Yours sincerely,

Ian Morrison
FRIENDS of Canadian Broadcasting

P.S. Please feel free to forward this email


The Friends of Canadian Broadcasting also have a FaceBook site. I encourage everyone to support the CBC!!!

(Who knows, I may still end up ranting later, but right now I've got a tour and CD release to work on )

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Welcome to Alyssa's Adventures in Celloland!

Also known as Alyssa’s first adventure in blogging. A natural endeavour for someone infamous for her online rants, er… highly-informative essays.

I’ll be taking a while to explore my new surroundings, but am looking forward to nattering on at you in the days to come.