Over the next little while, we’ll be checking in with members of our Canadian Opera Company family to find out how they’re keeping busy at home during this time of physical distancing. From their latest Netflix binge to testing new recipes to establishing a work-from-home routine, they’ll share what keeps them grounded and entertained.
Ambur Braid – Soprano and Ensemble Studio Graduate
COVID-19 has had a huge impact on our livelihoods as artists and is forcing us to be creative in other ways, to face challenges in a different way and to communicate effectively more than ever. These are scary and unpredictable times, but I'm seeing so much more humanity than ever before. When our performances were cancelled in Frankfurt, I flew home to The Blue Mountains in Ontario. We are fortunate to have prepared our beloved cabin in the woods for an event such as this. For those who don't know me, I'm what they call a mild Catastrophizer and have a large pantry and freezer stocked with supplies for nearly any life event: broken leg, Zombie Apocalypse, tornado, power outage, an impromptu champagne dinner for 25 and, apparently, COVID-19. Most singers are germophobes as well, so that was also sorted; gloves, masks, a first aid kit and what I refer to as my "witchcraft kit" (oregano oil, red marine algae, tea tree oil, and basically all of the craziest of things) was ready and waiting for our arrival from the other side of the globe.
My husband and I invited two other Canadian colleagues who live in the UK to quarantine with us. Our meals are our focal point during the Quarantine Days that felt like Groundhog Day. There's a profound beauty in meal time and we are lucky to have colleagues around the world that feel like family. Each day has been about making lunch and dinner for the four of us and we've been baking a lot of bread and cookies too. I've been documenting the meals on my Instagram stories (the easiest way to remember what day it is!) and we all take part in the setting of the table, the music selection, the preparation and the clean-up. I love cooking and this has made each day and each meal feel like more of an event.
I've definitely spent a lot of time on FaceTime and WhatsApp staying in touch with colleagues, friends and family members. We are all in a tough spot. Friends are being furloughed and others are anxiously awaiting word about cancellations and unpaid fees. These are awful situations, but the love and support we are giving each other is a beautiful thing. Be sure to call your grandparents!
My return to Canada lined up perfectly with the beginning of maple syrup season! We have been busy gathering and boiling down maple water each and every day. There was a bit of a situation with the evaporator outside (see: explosion) and so we've been doing it slowly on the stove inside. This sticky and steamy situation leads to more washing of the walls, which brings me to my final activity...
Cleaning! I'm never bored. There's always something to organize, sort through, and clean up. Thank goodness I find cleaning therapeutic (something we all need right now) because this house is cleaner than it's ever been and has the good clean smell of vinegar and eucalyptus. Each morning starts with coffee in bed and then I get to work wiping down all surfaces, taps, light switches and doorknobs. Then we all pitch in with a chore. Zoe was particularly fabulous at a baseboard washing and Carla is the dusting queen. Staunton is the master of the vacuum.
Bonus round: most of my reading is usually about the Tudors, but since watching The Crown on Netflix, I've moved onto more current Elizabeths. I suppose it was time to become a little bit more modern.
Rewatching The Crown has been nice on this "break". There is also a very entertaining book by Anne Glenconner, Lady in Waiting: My Extraordinary Life in the Shadows. It's a delightful read that gives a little bit more background to a few of the events in the television series and is a fun escape.
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