15 August 2020

Back in dinosaur times (circa 1998 probably) on a family trip to New Brunswick, my 2 years older cousin showed up for a visit driving an incredible car. Laurena has always been the coolest person known to my sister and I and at the time, my family was travelling around in a clunky VW van which my 16 year old self (stupidly) thought of as the lamest vehicle in existence. As a result, that vintage MGB automatically became the coolest car to ever exist and it became my envious wish to some day have one. 

Fast forward 32 years and I still consider both my cousin and MGs among the coolest things ever. Twenty plus years career experience mean I’ve got mechanical engineering skills, but current life in Toronto doesn’t come with a dedicated parking spot for our practical Subaru let alone the indoor garage space needed for a vintage car. However, I can claim full ownership of a fairly nifty biomachine that I carry around with me everywhere. Since 50 seems to come up a lot in our culture as being ‘officially old’ for most women, this 1972 system can also claim to be rapidly approaching vintage status.

The last 6 years of circus training has taught me a lot about what this system I move around in is capable of. As a biomechanical engineer, I naturally think of it in terms of system performance and thinking of how the process of caring and maintaining it will affect the level it can perform at over the upcoming years. Getting older is a privilege and I know that I won’t be able to control everything – life is turbulent after all. This space seems like a good place to work on a more detailed maintenance log about how I’m fixing her up and trying to keep her in good working condition.

Renee on aerial hoop
Renee in a knee hang on an outdoor aerial hoop.
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21 March 2020

Quarantine Diary

The world is crazy right now. Still early days and we are trying to make the best of our pandemic time at home. Thankful to be healthy.

Moose chili
Saturday Quarantini: Blackberry Bramble
1oz elderflower liqueur
1oz bourbon
1/2oz cassis liqueur
squeeze of lemon juice
Combine all in an ice-filled cocktail shaker and shake vigorously for at least a minute. Serve into a rocks glass with ice (or not). Garnish with strawberry and blueberry.
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27 December 2018

While kiddo is with her Dad’s side of the family for a few days her Papa and I are revelling in “boring grown up stuff”.

Giant New York Times crossword for him.

Dog snuggles and book for me.

And more leftovers for us both! Coffee, cheeseball on toast, egg and the last of our xmas eve prime rib.

Eventually the phone should ring and I’ll peel myself off the couch to meet up with a friend who has been living in Bogota for the last few years. It’s usually a surprise when he pops up to Canada and I get a chance to hear about life in Columbia. Because my own second language abilities are incredibly limited, I really admire anyone with the courage to make a life some place where their own first language isn’t dominant.

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26 December 2018

Holiday leftovers make for wonderfully horrible food options. This one reminds me of a decadent hot dip they served at a long gone wine bar in Kingston, Ontario. Cheeseball, sundried tomatos, and gnocchi. A little red pepper for vegetables.

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25 December 2018

Merry Christmas!

A few photos for the scrapbook.

This captures her spirit well. Nine is a fantastically wacky age.

My partner enjoys taking on cooking projects so for the past 5 years he’s chosen to theme our Christmas Eve feasts based on a different part of the world. This year was England. I’m generally  more of a day to day cook and am happy to provide grocery shopping support and clean up support for this big one. Past inspiration has come from France (cassoulet), India (curries), Sweden (juleboard), and Newfoundland  (moose & cod).

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Production Line 1

I made a machinery inspired aerial show!

So grateful to everyone that participated in the show. They helped take my idea and made it better.

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3 September 2018

Last day of summer is here. Tomorrow the kiddo finally gets to don her new clothes and find out if she’s in class with the cool teacher she’s hoping for. Much as I’ve enjoyed this summer, I’m looking forward to the fall transition. Summer felt like a sprint from one thing to the next and the back-to-school return to routine feels like the opportunity to begin projects that can slowly build over time.

Got to put my fresh rigging skills to work on Saturday moving equipment around for the show I’m choreographing and directing. Despite the many hours spent in my high school and university theatre departments this is the first time I’ve ever tried making something and wearing the leader hat as opposed to auditioning for other people’s projects. After dropping out of my university drama program to pursue engineering, who would have predicted that I’d feel driven to make performance art in my mid-forties? On one hand, I’m fully confident that it will be just fine, which of course it will: the stakes are low and my fellow adult circus student performers all seem happy to be coming along for the ride. On the other, I’m walking a mental tightrope of taking the project seriously without falling into getting pretentious about it. Definitely a tricky balance. Mostly I try to remind myself that this is my first kick at the can and I have to accept that whether it ends up being good, bad, or something in between I’m at least trying.

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30 August 2018

Thanks to a jerky stomach I took a week long coffee break. withdrawal sucked, but I got through. Stomach seems better, but sleep issues improved not at all. Added it back in rotation yesterday and it feels great to be back on the caffeine train. I generally limit it to 1 cup a day, but such a nice way to start the morning.

Friday mornings have been my regular aerial hoop class time for a few years. Much like the coffee I’ve also been away from the studio for a week and am looking forward to a return to that routine. The lack of training is kinda funny considering that I spent 16 hours over Monday and Tuesday in a circus studio. Turns out that an aerial rigging course involved no actual aerial. Learned a lot though!

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29 August 2018

Bakeapple jam on vanilla ice cream.

Our trip to Newfoundland is only two weeks in the past and already feels like long ago. Just one last weekend then turn the page on a new school year and a freshly minted nine year old will start grade 4. Everything is zooming by so fast.

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20 June 2018

A month ago I ran away to join the circus… In reality, I guess it was more like taking a circus sabbatical. I left my work and family in Canada and flew to France to spend a focused week training and creating with 4 other artists in the village of St. Geniez d’Olt. There was even a performance at the end. It was an incredible experience.

For the past year or so I’ve been mentally struggling with the purpose of my training. Am I doing this for exercise with the occasional student show or do I want something more from it – and if so, what?

Many at this stage of their training will start to transition to teaching and/or applying to circus schools to take it to the next level. Ecole Nationale du Cirque in Montreal is generally considered the very best, but there are also respected professional development programs at Aloft in Chicago, NECCA in Vermont and even a few small DIY ones here in Toronto. For me, however, neither of those really work. Teaching isn’t on my radar – I already had the experience of teaching gymnastics and trampoline back in the 1990s, and would prefer to stick with my engineering job for money. Pursuing circus at a professional level is out for multiple reasons. In addition to being 46 years old (ancient!), I have a family and career that restrict my schedule and where I live.

I’ve realized that I want to level up while also staying close to home and am now exploring what that could look like. My circus retreat did a lot to help clarify what the could be and helped me find a way to combine my engineering strengths with my circus skills that I’m pretty excited about. The work we did during our week in France was the first phase. We made an aerial machine!


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