Taking home the gold!

2013 Sweet Adelines International Champion Chorus

My beloved North Metro Chorus just won a gold in the very hard-fought Sweet Adelines International competition!

Sweet Adelines is a world-wide singing organization of women. The style is
a cappella 4-part close harmony in the barbershop style. The style of singing was first started in the U.S., spread to Canada and now it can be found in many corners of the globe such as the UK, Sweden, Japan and Russia.

North Metro Chorus is located in Toronto, but women from all over belong to the chorus. Sadly, I wasn’t able to be in the chorus this year, I remained an associate, but didn’t compete with them. I hope to return soon.

In Sweet Adelines, choruses compete at the regional level. If your chorus wins you compete about 18 months later at the International level – usually an American city. This year was Denver, next year is Hawaii but the competition has also been held in Calgary and London, UK. If you do win at Regional, you don’t compete for a year. If you win at International, you take 2 years off before you compete again. But, the winning chorus returns the following year to do an educational class and to perform during the contest week. North Metro will be going to Hawaii next year to perform!

There is no monetary reward, it’s entirely a hobby, in fact YOU pay to belong to the chorus, to sing at your regional and international competitions; but the “gold” medal is truly gold to a Sweet Adeline – it’s the Olympics of barbershop singing.

By the way, North Metro has won this honour 4 times now, but hadn’t won it in 10 years prior to last night. And North Metro Chorus is the only Canadian chorus to have won this title so far. So it was a very sweet victory. During contest week, there are two chorus competitions. A semifinals where, this year, 33 choruses competed. They each sing 2 songs – barbershop songs that have been deemed appropriate for competition (several musical elements that make the song distinctly barbershop and not “just” a cappella). The judging panel looks at various aspects – sound, music, expression and showmanship and 10 choruses come back for the finals. It’s the finals that everyone lives for. Here, the choruses still sing the two contestable songs, but they also sing other songs and put together a “show package”. It’s a night of entertainment that people would pay big bucks to watch – the creativity and ingenuity is astonishing. The scores are cumulative – combined between the semis and finals and the top score wins. This year there were some really big heavy weights and winning was not going to be easy. In fact, North Metro beat the favorites by only 9 points! Phew! And, you should know that is isn’t JUST a singing contest – it’s also about choreography – and North Metro has the BEST choreographer in the business – Erin Howden – who is also the director’s daughter. And it’s this combination of top notch singing and excellent choreography that decides the winner.

When the winning chorus is called, all members go to the stage, collect their precious gold medal, the director says a few words and then they sing a song. The director, June Dale, was so shocked that she couldn’t find the words. (I watched the competition from home on a live webcast). I’m sure she found them later during the victory party!

So, the ladies will make their way home today (Sunday). Wearing their gold medals, they’ll get together on Wednesday, have cake, laugh, cry, hug and the planning for the following year – strutting their stuff at Regional (not competing) and in Hawaii (also not competing) will begin.  And in the words of North Metro’s favorite coach, barbershop singer extraordinaire – Joe Connolly – the chorus can now declare themselves, the “best chorus on the globe“! Woot Woot!

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Ella plays

Ella as a young puppy playing. I wish I had longer videos of her at that age, so cute!

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Oh the joy of quilting!

My passion, my joy. How can I possibly explain my feelings for this amazing hobby? You just have to try it. It’s about colour, design, creativity. The kind of fabric out there now is simply stunning. There is nothing like building up the fabric stash, finding great deals online such as from Toronto’s Sew-Sisters, doing the Fab Shop Hop, finding free quilt patterns on the web from sites such as All People Quilt and McCall’s Quilting, in my favorite quilt magazine: Quilter’s World. Looking for fabric at Fabric Land (though in Ontario the quilt section is much smaller than any I found in Alberta). And digging through that fabric stash that took years to build up.

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Puppy Love!

Lyle and I have just brought home our new puppy: Ella. She is a Keeshond and we are just thrilled with her! We have begun the process of crate training. Let me tell you, I was very nervous about this. I’ve had a couple of dogs, but never puppies and so the process of training the puppy has been quite daunting and a little scary.

To prepare, I did what many people do: I read books and did a ton of Internet research. I have one favorite library book which is probably overdue now, but has really helped me through the most challenging times. Now, as great as all these reading tools and videos are, no book can really prepare you for the reality of crate training. The sound that puppies are capable of making when they are not happy and want out! Oh man, it can break your heart! It’s easy to cave in. I did a couple of times, and took her out of the crate. But determined to make a success of this process, tried again and put her back in the crate and discovered that she did in fact stop the crying…eventually.  After the first couple of tries, when she cried and whined when we put her in, she’s already at the stage where she goes in on her own initiative (we’ve had her for less than 3 days at the time of this posting). I think that’s step one. Step two is getting her to stop peeing in the house and also, letting us know when she needs to go out. I’m feeling optimistic that we’ll get through it with success, perhaps not over night but it will happen. The next challenge – leaving her alone for a little while. I know I need to do that relatively soon and just as with the crate training, I’m not particularly looking forward to it. However, what I keep telling myself is, if I don’t want a dog that whines and barks the whole time I’m gone, then I have no choice but to do this right and do it now. For me that’s really good motivation. I’ll keep you posted…

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TheSpec – Aberdeen stadium costs skyrocket

TheSpec – Aberdeen stadium costs skyrocket.


Very strange hearing “Mayor Bob Bratina”. Growing up in Hamilton, that name was associated with CHCH news.  Since I don’t live there now, I’m not quite used to the new title. I hope the whole stadium issue can be sorted out.

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CBC Books – Canada Reads 2011

CBC Books – Canada Reads 2011.

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Sweet Adelines International in Seattle

Sweet Adelines International is a world-wide organization of women who sing 4-part a Capella harmony in the barbershop style. There are chapters from all over the U.S. and Canada, England, Sweden, Australia, New Zealand and you can find us in Japan, Germany and even Israel!

I sing with a Toronto chorus called North Metro Chorus, and we won the third place bronze medal in a very tough competition. We are a competitive chorus and we would like to win, but when we reflected, I think many of us agreed that our chorus has never sung so well and we are on a journey that we hope will lead us (back) to that gold medal.

Being in Seattle was an absolute treat! What a fantastic city; I would go back anytime. We rode the Duck! We loved the Pike Place Market (yes I got a picture of the fish-throwing), we ate incredible seafood and we all connected together in a way that is really hard to describe, but made this experience the best Sweet Adeline experience I have ever had.

Adding to this wonderful mix my husband was with us. He couldn’t make it to Hawaii (my first time competing at International) so having him in Seattle was special. He took amazing photos and the women all truly appreciate that. Lyle took a room in a hotel off the beaten track to save some money while I roomed with a couple of my chorus friends.  I thoroughly enjoyed my roommates and our experience together. I love those women so much! But next time, I think I would like to share a room with my dear husband. So we start saving the coins now!

I look forward to the next two years of competition, shows, growing and learning. I can’t wait for our next coaching experience, new music, and new memories. It’s all about the journey!

If you are a woman who likes to sing, look for the nearest Sweet Adelines chapter in your area. The learning experience, the friendships, the memories, you might be making the best choice you’ve ever made!

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