Welcome to Renate's Baton. This blog is mostly for and about my choir, The York Region Community Choir.

But, While I'm holding the baton, I'm in charge. So, if I want to talk about other parts of my life, I will. :)

The choir itself is a community and I'm discovering that we have a lot in common with one another besides our love of music and singing.

When I go off on a tangent, there is always a crowd coming along. Join us!

Monday, January 31, 2022

Planning YRCC In-Person Rehearsals!

I'm so happy to be planning in-person rehearsals starting at the end of February!

Tonight, we meet on Zoom, and for the next few weeks. But, on February 28th, we plan to meet in person again!!! If you didn't get the email from York Region Community Choir to announce that, please let me or Lauren know.

I really hope we can keep the pandemic numbers under control and follow the Ontario Reopening Plan (click there if you want to go to the official website) that starts today. 

We can start going out to restaurants at 50% again starting today, but no singing or dancing, and limits on lots of things. Okay, first step. Then, the second step. Starting on February 21st, things should open up a little more, full restaurants, 50% concerts, physical distancing and vaccination proof still needed. This is when we can go back to in-person rehearsals. We have chosen to start on February 28th to give us a little time to get into that new stage, set up protocols, make sure we have things in place so everyone feels safe. Starting March 14th, the Ontario plan is not quite clear but the idea is to open a bit more.

I am confident that we can have a concert in May or June. 

We Rise Again: Here Comes the Sun

Here Comes the Sun!

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

CNOY Coldest Night of the Year Annual Walk Feb. 26th, 2022

 I thought you'd find this interesting...

Services offered by Inn From the Cold

Inn From the Cold provides emergency shelter and support services for the homeless and those at risk of homelessness. IFTC offers a range of helpful services year round that are designed to assist with finding housing, employment, volunteer opportunities, mental health and addiction support and other necessities such as hot meals, clothing, laundry, internet, voicemail, showers and personal care items. A continuum of services from basic needs to securing housing assists our clients on their journey to wellness and self-sufficiency. (from the IFTC website with my highlights)

On February 26, I'll be walking in the Coldest Night of the Year to support Inn From the Cold and wanted you to...


a) Know about it, and

b) Consider joining me, and/or

c) Consider donating to me.


The Coldest Night of the Year is Canada's National Walk for Homelessness, and here in my community, it's raising money for people and families experiencing homelessness, hurt, and hunger in our town.


To learn more, visit cnoy.org or to support me click the link below:




Thanks again,


Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Screen-Life Balance

Work-life balance, move over, step aside! This challenge is even bigger, harder: Screen-life balance. 

We are missing important moments because we're tied to screens. Life is passing us by. We're looking in the wrong place. We need to refocus.

Screens have taken over our lives. People even take their phones to the bathroom, can't be without them for an instant. People look at their phones while they're looking at a bigger screen, scrolling while watching a movie or working at a computer. In fact, I think some people might scratch their heads and wonder about the concept of life and screens being separate things. How is that possible, life without screens, and why would you even consider it? 

I don't take my phone everywhere. I often have no pockets, and that's okay (I wish more women's clothing had pockets, but that's another story.). I often miss a call or text or message, and my kids sometimes roll their eyes because they know that I regularly put my phone down and forget about it. The fact that it's always on silent makes it hard to find (more eye rolling).

I'm not a luddite, not anti-technology, but I think this screen focus is dangerous. Many people are overly attached to what other people think and get addicted to the dings of notifications on their fashionable new phones and tablets. I can enjoy things I see and hear and eat without taking pictures of them to share. It's not anti-social. Sometimes I share. But, it's my life and I want to live it. I like real live life.

Maybe I like things old-fangled.

I don't usually know what the most popular movies or TV shows are, but sometimes I read about them, and sometimes I watch them. I've always been this way. It's not something related to my age, but it's not a big deal now that I'm older. 

I like cooking and gardening, reading and writing, singing and dancing, having dinner and drinks with friends, and I like doing these things, not watching them on a screen.

Life is there, in the things I do, especially the things I love to do. 

When the pandemic is over, we'll have more opportunities to do more things without screens. More life, less Zoom.

When I was working, I drank a lot of tea so that I'd have to step away from the computer screen intermittently. I made sure to take a lunch break downstairs too. Now, I still make sure to step away from the computer to stretch my legs and to do something else, something I can do standing preferably. That could be age-related, because my body complains when I do anything too much. But, it's a lifestyle thing, a not-sitting thing.

Sometimes, I spend way too much time looking at Pinterest, or Instagram and Facebook. I can get stuck there for hours if I'm not careful (ga!). I set a time limit on my phone for social media because I noticed that I was sitting and scrolling for hours every day. And, I thought I didn't have time to exercise (or clean)!

I walk every day without a step tracker. My phone doesn't come with me, and my Fitbit has been living in a drawer for quite some time now. I don't need to know how many steps I've taken. I just need to walk every day, and try to get up and move as much as I can. When I walk, I look at the sky, trees, flowers, snowflakes, footprints, pawprints, people, dogs, houses, birds, squirrels... My gaze can wander everywhere, and I can also watch where I'm going so I don't walk into things. 

Life is there, away from screens. Lift your gaze. Refocus.

Monday, January 10, 2022

Current Ontario Public Health Rules and YRCC

I don't even know what to say here. I really just want to know when we can meet to sing and rehearse and what the chances are for us to have a concert. 

I thought I'd go online and look up some information to share with you. This Ontario Government Public Health COVID-19 page said I would be able to:

Find out about the latest public health measures, advice and restrictions. (https://covid-19.ontario.ca/public-health-measures)

Basically, since January 5th, we've been in a modified Stage 2 which is supposed to last until January 27th, "subject to trends in public health and our health system". So, we have to wait and see what happens. Listen for announcements, check on that page once in a while. 

Ultimately, we have to wait and see what the church we rehearse at or the regional building we rehearse at say. Our choir is recreational, so our rehearsals don't really fall into the entertainment rehearsal category. People are still supposed to stay at home as much as possible, going out to work only if working from home is not possible. Makes sense to me. I'm happy not to go out except to walk Dexter. Harry's been doing more of the grocery shopping again. He's had his booster. I'm on a wait list. We're doing our part. 

The word "pivot" is now a bad word, something people don't want to hear in polite conversation. We all feel like superstar basketball players, reacting and pivoting quickly to keep in the game, wide-eyed and sweating. Only, we didn't choose to play this game, don't want to even be in this arena, on this court, and the jerseys are not our best colour. 

For the choir, our pivoting is very easy compared to teachers and students and families with little ones, for restaurants and places of business. We're on Zoom again until further notice. 


Wednesday, January 5, 2022

2021 The Year of Zoom for YRCC

For our choir, the YRCC, 2021 was almost entirely a year of Zoom. We met twice in Fairy Lake Park and twice at Trinity Anglican in Aurora. Other than that, we only sang together and saw each other with computer screens and webcams. 

We thought our Zoom Choir days were over, but they're continuing into 2022.

We certainly aren't alone in having zoom meetings. We're not alone in having pets show up and take the spotlight once in a while. If you take a look at the 2021 Zoom statistics from a Zoom study, you'll see that 36% of Zoom users have had pets show up at Zoom meetings. Click on that link. It's a fun summary of some of the things that Zoom meetings are famous for. 

2021 Zoom Stats

"You're on mute." is going to be the 2021 phrase of the year. 71% of Zoom users reported saying that phrase at least once. I think we said it at almost every meeting. 

Apparently happy hour drinks on Zoom was a popular thing, and some of our choir nights did feel a bit like happy hour. Quite a few of us would have a glass of something to say "cheers" with. Drinking at choir and being able to go to choir on stormy nights were two bonuses that made me grateful for choir on Zoom. Seeing and talking to choir friends and singing our choir songs together made Zoom choir necessary for me. I needed that connection. 

I'm grateful for Zoom again, as we step back into Stage 2 of the reopening plan for Ontario. We really hoped to be meeting for real again and we have a new accompanist and everything! I hope we don't have to wait long for things to open up so that we can have real choir again. There is an "Event" set up on the website for you to let us know if you think you'll be coming back when we can meet again. We will follow any and all recommendations for meeting safely, including wearing masks, checking vaccination certificates, contact tracing, whatever. We really, really, really want to sing together, so we will do whatever it takes to make it possible. 

Stay tuned. Lauren and I are keeping you up-to-date via email, Facebook, this blog, and of course, the YRCC website. There are links all over the place for you to click and get information. 

I miss you and want to see you again soon. Stay well.