Monday, May 31, 2010

Sunday Choral Report

The choir sounded quite wonderful yesterday!  It never fails to amaze me how much better we sound from the loft compared to the rehearsal room in the basement of the church, particularly with certain types of music.

This week, we sang Josquin's 4-voice Salve Regina during the offertory and Jesu Dulcis Memoria (Tomas Victoria) during communion (pdf).  They are simply thrilling to sing.  I can't find a video of the Josquin, but here's one of the latter.

The text, in English:

Jesus, sweet remembrance,
Granting the heart its true joys,
But above honey and all things Is His sweet presence.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Thinking about Josephine.

My mother-in-law has not been well, and we're heading to Paris to see her as soon as Michael finishes his exams mid-June.  Alex has to return after a week to start his summer job, so I'll fly back with him. Z will stay on for another week with Michael and do some travelling.

When she was here over Christmas, I posted about her and her special relationship with the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.    Here's a repost of something I wrote a number of months ago in her honour.


Things I learned from my Mother-in-Law


In no particular order:

  1. Tabbouleh should have a high parsley to bulgur ratio with NO parsley stems.
  2. Dishwashing soap is the best pre-wash treatment for clothing stains.
  3. It is entirely possible to spend your life raising (and praying for) your children and make a HUGE difference in the world.
  4. It's always better to have too much food on the table than too little.
  5. Always welcome visitors for a meal or a night, even if it means Ikea mattresses in the living room.
  6. Leftovers are a **good** thing.
  7. Morning prayers are better if you light a candle.
  8. Make your way in the world with confidence, even if you don't have much education or speak the local language.
  9. Be patient and forbearing with those who annoy you, but speak your mind in matters of faith and morals.
  10. Your freezer is your friend.  Use it to store herbs, tomato paste, leftover lemon juice, old bananas, nuts that you buy in bulk, bulgur.  [It's REALLY your friend when your MIL visits you and fills it with home cooking.]
  11. Partake of the sacraments as often as you can. It doesn't matter if the mass is in your language.  You know what's going on.
  12. There's always room for a statue of the BVM in your suitcase. And gifts for every friend and relative that you will see on your trip.
  13. If you love something, buy one for (or recommend one to) everyone you meet. Think enamel roasting pans, Swedish lemon pepper seasoning, over-the-sink colanders, Cuisinart food processors.

All this from Josephine, my "mama".  We communicate in our second language (French), and live an ocean apart, but she has taught me so much over the 26 years I have been married to her son.  And I love her very much.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Georgia on my mind.

Yesterday, Z got a call from a colleague from our time in Atlanta (2002-2007), and I've been thinking about those days.  And then Alex linked to a Soul Train video in his not-yet-public blog and I started to get really misty-eyed.  It was a great experience, and I'm so glad we took the plunge and went south for five years.  For me, it was a life-changing time...some time I'll post the story of my journey to Catholicism, but it happened in the Deep South through a series of events and circumstances that had been accumulating over many years. And then we moved from Ottawa to Norcross, into a particular parish, with a set of wonderful people, priests, deacons, and teachers.

But Atlanta was more than that.  It was a foray into a different culture.  A different way of being almost.  Like any move to a new place, you start out being critical, but slowly you start to get it, for better or worse.  I will always have a fondness for Georgia.  I'll always be ready to hop on a plane if the opportunity presents itself.  And Gladys Knight always takes me back...

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Teehan writes on composing for the church.

Church? Like, CHURCH church?

Friends of mine are sometimes surprised to learn that in addition to my tuba player/composer career, I am also a choral singer and have been singing professionally in churches for some years.  I don’t keep this a secret, but I tend not to talk too much about it since it usually takes a backseat to my other activities.  The fact is, though, that choral singing has kept food on my table while I’ve gotten my “real” career off the ground, and continues to do so.

When the topic does come up, I’m sometimes asked, “so are you like, religious?”  or the simpler, “church? like, CHURCH church?”  I guess people are surprised because traditional church services are not very congruous with the lifestyle of the average jazz/rock musician.  And it’s pretty ironic, actually, that I’m working in a church now since I was raised without any religion. In fact, in my teens I was a pretty militant atheist: I thought the whole enterprise was ridiculous and didn’t miss an opportunity to say so.


Rob Teehan, Juno-nominated composer and tuba player, writes thoughtfully on his relationship with the church and how it's changed since he started singing at, and composing for, church services.

Continue reading here.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Got out the sewing machine...


Not having a dedicated place to sew or craft means taking over the dining room table for a couple of days and motoring through one or more projects.

This weekend, I made a birthday gift and recovered two cushions. I also scored a brand new down filled cushion at Value Village a couple of weeks ago so I'll cover it today. I taught myself to install invisible zippers so the covers can come off for cleaning or replacement.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Because sometimes I just don't want to Keep Calm and Carry On....

Tank Green

Some lessons from the OGS conference.

In a previous post, I talked about some of the networking that went on at the OGS Conference last weekend. Today, I want to mention some of the gems that I picked up at the conference, and where they've already led.

The first talk I went to (and introduced the speaker) was by Thomas Jones, a well-known researcher and speaker.  His talk was titled "How to Avoid Being Duped by the Internet", but as he said, it should really be "How to Avoid Being Duped by the Internet."  He stressed that we need to focus on primary and original sources for our research, and to make sure not to stop at indexes when the original data is available.  I am guilty of this with some of my sources, and this has led to some errors in my research due to transcription problems.  That is, whoever transcribes the original census data (or whatever) makes an error and so the it is important to try to see original images of the source.  He also talked about original sources vs. derivative sources, and how original sources (created soon after the event in question e.g., birth registration) are better than derivative (e.g., newspaper clippings, census data, etc.)

James F.S. Thomson gave two talks that I attended.  The first one was on passenger records.  These have been a helpful source for me in the past, but he gave some new ideas plus a huge list of references and links in his talk notes.  His second talk was on Scottish Church Records and the big progress that is being made in digitizing these pre-1855 Old Parish Registers.  He covered a bit of Church History from Scotland and talked about the kind of information that will be (and some is) available.  I am particularly interested in some Kirk Session records at the time of my ggrandmother's youth.  My next step will be to figure out what parish this family likely belonged to and then I can see if the records are available.

An overflowing room for the talk on Social Networking and Genealogy was proof that there is a lot of interest here.  And we got some great stuff from Marian Press who teaches at the Institute for Genealogical Studies where I am taking courses.  She put me on to the UK version of ancestry called Genes Reunited and I've been busy building my tree over there and corresponding with potential and ACTUAL cousins!  She also talked about Flickr as a great way to (1) back up your photos; (2) search for photos of your ancestors that others have posted; and (3) find photos of important buildings (e.g., churches, town halls, castles, etc) that may make up part of your family's story.  The National Library has a huge number of images up there, as well as the Library of Congress.  She also talked about some interested Twitter feeds for genealogists (TheGenealogue, megansmolenyak, UKNatArchives).  Delicious is a great way to store bookmarks on the go.  

I attended a session co-hosted by four Toronto researchers regarding some new initiatives that are in progress:  (1) indexing all the war memorials in Toronto Public Schools; (2) a detailed transcription of the 1861 census in Toronto; (3) indexing of the Toronto Trust Cemeteries and (4) Simcoe's Gentry: Toronto's Park Lots.  These are all exciting project particularly for those living or researching Toronto ancestors.  In particular, the indexing of the cemeteries is an ongoing project that needs volunteers with high-speed internet access and I'm planning to sign-up to do some transcribing.  

I missed the session Sunday morning on Eastern European Family History as I misread the start time and was very late, but I attended two other sessions that morning.  The first by Rick Crume was entitled "Genealogy Hack:  Tricks to Crack Seven Top Genealogy WebSites".  It sounds criminal(!) but it simply pointed out some important tricks to making sure that you are plumbing the resources for everything that's there.  For example. on, there are two difference search engines and you should make sure that you use both ("old search" and "new search").  The use of wildcards and soundex searches.  Doing global searches (good) vs. searching specific databases (better).  He talked about a new beta version of Family Search and some of the new features.

This post has gone on long enough, so I'll talk about my new connections in a forthcoming post.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Purcell at the ROM


Z and I attended a program sponsored by the ROM Library and Archives last night called Henry Purcell:  A Baroque Fantasy.  Held in a small auditorium, the evening combined two talks, music, and dance from the Baroque period, and helped paint a very holistic picture of life in that period.  

Five musicians from Toronto-area ensembles like the Toronto Consort and Tafelmusik performed on period instruments:  harpsichord (Borys Mendicky), recorders (Alison Melville and Colin Savage), bass viol (Joelle Morton) along with tenor Paul Jenkins.  We heard selections from different stages of Purcell's tragically short career, and they were joined by baroque dancers Leonie Gagne and Jeremy Nasmith during some tunes for the theatre.

The first talk was given by Brian Musselwhite, Assistant Curator.  It was illustrated with slides and covered the baroque period in general, including decorative arts, clothing and hair styles, the history at the time, and some snippets from the diary of Samuel Pepys.  This was followed by music along with some brief presentations by the musicians about their instruments.

A second talk by David Fallis described the influences on the music of the period, particularly the impact of Restoration and then the return of England to Protestant rule, putting a lot of musicians out of work and pushing Purcell towards the theatre.  He spoke about the music we were hearing and where it fit in the history of the period.  He also spoke about Purcell's wife who was bequeathed his oeuvre upon his death and (lucky for us) had most of his loose manuscripts published in a series of collections.

We both agreed that we came away with a much better understanding of the period, and enjoyed a wonderful evening of period entertainment.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Exciting Connections: Conference Update!

The OGS Conference this past weekend was a whirlwind of sessions, volunteering, and coffee-drinking.  It was held at a hotel out near the airport, so I was commuting 20-40 mintues each day, depending on traffic, and Friday and Saturday mornings I started at 7 am (working the sign-in desk) so I had some very long days.

But the good news is that the sessions were terrific, I got some great ideas for proceeding with my work, and made some interesting connections with people.  Case in point:  both mornings I worked with a woman who used to live in Ottawa, has ancestors in Gatineau, and still belongs to the Ottawa Branch of the OGS.  She explained the genesis of the British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa and that they do a lot of work on Home Children, including an upcoming conference in Ottawa this fall.  So I hope to get up to that.

I had also volunteered to work in the Research Centre onsite at the conference, as set of 12 laptops with free access to some popular (paid) genealogical websites (like Ancestry and Find My Past.)  The woman who organized the volunteers also looks after inquiries that come into the Toronto Branch of the OGS and they have been looking for someone to deal with inquiries needing research at the North York Central Library, which is a stone's throw from my place, Helping them out with this will improve my research skills and introduce me to some of the resources that I haven't yet discovered.

There was a marketplace at the conference with representation from major family history societies, publishers, software and internet-based companies, and some miscellaneous vendors.  I was able to purchase a copy of a book that I had just borrowed from the public library and decided that I needed a copy.  It's called The Golden Bridge:  Young Immigrants to Canada, 1833-1939 by Marjorie Kohli, and is the best overall resource on Home Children available at the moment.  I had so many post-its in my borrowed copy that I knew I had to get my own!  I also purchsed a CD-ROM containing The Gazetteer of Scotland, 1882, and a book published by the National Institute for Genealogical Studies called Researching Canada's Home Children by John D. Reid.

I'll post about what I learned in the sessions later, including some great tips that have already led to me connecting with "cousins"!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


I had the pleasure of accompanying Z to Stratford for the Day on Monday.  He was speaking at a conference and I was quite content to spend the day by myself until he could join me for dinner.  


In the morning, I wandered around the main streets.  Many of the shops were closed on Monday, so that was a bit of a disappointment, but I was still able to enjoy the sights of this beautiful city, like the Perth County Courthouse (above).  

I had lunch at Bentley's on Ontario Street, fish and chips and a pint, and then headed down to the area around the Avon Theatre.  I dropped into a Coffee Culture and had a cup of coffee and a piece of apple tarte,


I had a ticket for Peter Pan, which turned out to be marvellous!  I was seated next to a couple whose daughter Laura Condlln plays Mrs. Darling (and a mermaid) in the production and they were clearly very proud!  I love the story, and the acting was superb.  Michael Therriault was fabulous as Peter, and had an uncanny resemblance, both in appearance and in behaviour, to my brother-in-law!  Also notable was Tom McCamus who plays Captain Hook as well as the narrator/playwright J.M Barrie.

When the play was over, I drove out to the conference centre to pick up Z and we returned to the market square near the Avon Theatre to have dinner at Othello's, another pub.  When we first walked in, the decor was not very impressive, but the food turned out to be excellent. We shared a crisp, fresh, salad with goat cheese and some somosas to start. I had a lamb burger with goat cheese and peppers and Z had veal roulade with fresh vegetables. We tried the local Waterloo Dark, which was very nice.

After dinner, we headed out to the Festival Theatre to see Kiss Me, Kate.  It was lots of fun....a little broad for my tastes, but our seats were excellent and it was a very enjoyable evening of entertainment.  Z particularly enjoyed Chilina Kennedy in her role as Lois Lane and we both loved the Too Darn Hot and Brush up Your Shakespeare numbers.

We headed out of town after the show, stopping at Tim Hortons to pick up some (horrific) coffee.  We arrived home around 12:30 exhausted but having enjoyed ourselves immensely!  It was our first time in Stratford and we certainly plan to return this summer, and in the future.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

"Retro" moms?


This makes no sense...or am I missing the point? (from weekend section of todays National Post.)

Friday, May 7, 2010

(Sugar) blast from the past!


Seen on sale at my local grocer. Universal Wishlist

Universal Wish List

This is great! has just announced their Universal Wish List which lets you add products from any website to your wishlist, not just amazon products! You add a button to your bookmark bar in your browser and when you see a product on a website you'd like to add, you just click the button and it will appear on your wishlist.

Just in time for Mother's Day...

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Nerd Merit Badges - You know you want one!

Nerd Merit Badges

1.5", fully embroidered, Velcro-backed. Attach to your jacket, your backpack, or the lid of your over-clocked, battle-scarred laptop. Start a nerd sash!

05: Family Tech Support

Requirements: You provide hardware, software, and telephone support for family computers and electronics—voluntarily or involuntarily.

Thanks to @druzziel for art inspiration: “a slice of pie and a pair of handcuffs!” Design then brought to reality by Philadelphia artist and illustrator Michele Melcher.

Follow us on twitter at



Check out the full selection! I qualify for a couple more...

Financialization of Economics

Excellent piece in The National Post today by Fr. Raymond de Souza on his recent trip to the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences for a conference on Economics.  It's hard to imagine a more beautiful place than the Vatican for an academic meeting...he mentions the gardens in the piece and I pulled up a few of my snaps from our recent travels.  We didn't actually get a tour of the gardens.  The only way you can actually enter the gardens is with a guided tour, but we saw bits of it as we toured the Vatican Museum.

But more to the point, Fr. de Souza talks about the lack of discourse in economics of moral hazard and the philosophical dimension in general.  How does the notion of gifts fit?  Or working for the common good?  Or the relationship between doctor and patient, husband and wife?  What does it mean that corporations have become entities to buy and sell, rather than produce something of concrete value?  

Very thought provoking piece, and I'm sure that being in beautiful gardens would make it even more pleasant to contemplate.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

A post I've been coming back to frequently.....from Zen Habits

This is an excerpt from a longer post at Zen Habits.  It's been in an open window on my desktop for the last few days, and I keep it marked "unread" in my feed reader.  It summarizes so succinctly the kind of life I long to have, and am slowly achieving.  Have a read, and see if it resonates with you.  Head over to the original post if you want to read it in it's entirety.

If you want to live a balanced life then there are 5 essential habits that you need to develop.

  1. Awareness and mindfulness. Awareness is the key to balanced living because it lets you see every moment of your life and appreciate it. A mindful person lives in the present and does not get obsessed with the future or the past. It’s important to plan for the future and learn from your mistakes in the past, but it is even more important to appreciate who you are right now and find joy in this state.
    When you are aware of this moment you are calm and you do not make any decisions that you might regret later.
    When you are mindful you are in balance with the universe.
  2. Appreciation of your body. By “appreciation” I mean taking care of your body. If you are grateful for the very first gift that you received in your life (your body) then you must take care of it. It means making healthy choices in life, exercising and being generally active, eating a balanced and healthy diet, letting your body rest when it’s tired and pampering it every once in a while.
    Your body is the tool that lets you experience so many wonderful moments in life and you need to do your best when taking care of it.
    Clearly, balanced living is not possible without a balanced body.
  3. Creativity. Every day we face a lot of challenges and choices in life. Some of these challenges might be easy while others will be more difficult. If you approach each of your challenges with creativity then your life will be filled with adventures. Conversely, if you turn off your creativity, then your life will turn into torture.
    Creativity is a wonderful tool that lets us turn our dreams into reality, turn play into work and work into play, and enjoy life even when it seems empty.
    Creative people are the ones who can make the exquisite setting for the diamond of their life.
  4. Patience. With patience we can overcome almost anything whilst without it we can ruin almost anything.
    Patience can help us turn our dreams into reality (losing weight, starting a business or blog). It can help us be better parents, spouses, friends and even strangers (sometimes a smile from an understanding stranger can make the biggest difference when you are having a bad day). If you are patient you do not have to worry about the minutes spent in traffic or in the line at the grocery store. With patience you can see results in all your endeavors and you do not have to spend the precious time of your life getting mad or infuriated.
    Patience leads to mindfulness and mindfulness brings you in balance.
  5. Simplicity. Simplicity is probably the most important part of life balance. When you build your life around simplicity you reduce the number of out-of-balance things that can disrupt your happy living.
    In balance everything is simple. There are two opposites (like black and white) and you just have to pick something in the middle:
    • Simplify you work schedule so that you do not have to think about a hundred things at the same time.
    • Simplify your relationships by connecting with people you truly care about and getting rid of the ones you don’t.
    • Simplify your diet by choosing simple healthy ingredients that are part of balanced nutrition.
    • Simplify your social media exposure and enjoy living life and getting things done rather than wasting time online.

    Simplicity makes life balance simple.

Read more from Anastasiya at Balance In Me, subscribe to her feed and keep your life in balance.

I'd like to make a postcard or a small poster or something to remind me of these five habits. A silver bangle engraved with the five words would work!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

American Gods - read with the world! #1b1t

While I've mentioned this multiple times on Twitter, tomorrow is the day that the first "One Book, One Twitter" (#1b1t).  Initiatied by Jeff Howe, Managing Editor of Wired and blogger at Crowdsourcing, it all started with this post back in mid-March. 

A few weeks ago I was reading about the Chicago's read-along for a grad seminar on social capital I'm taking with Robert Putnam this semester. My strong suspicion (and I'm hardly alone) is that networks like Twitter are rife with social capital, especially the so-called "bridging" social capital that connects communities of people who have little else in common. The thought struck me that Twitter would provide a much better platform for a book club than the mere accident of physical proximity. Just think, we could supplant #howyouathug with #chapterfourexegesis in trending topics! Actually, no, we probably couldn't, and that's not the goal anyway. I love books. So do you. Let's love one book together, our actual geographical location be damned.

He established the hashtag #1b1t and started accepting nominations for the first book.  After tallying up the noms, and adding in some "Judges Choice" books, the shortlist was

The God of Small Things, by Arundhati Roy. 352 pps.

Song of Solomon, by Toni Morrison. 337 pps.

Slaughterhouse Five, by Kurt Vonnegut. 288 pps.

1984, by George Orwell. 326 pps.

Brave New World, by Aldus Huxley. 288 pps.

100 Years of Solitude, by Gabriel García Márquez. 432 pps.

American Gods, by Neil Gaiman. 480 pps.

Catch-22, by Joseph Heller. 453 pps.

Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger. 276 pps.

Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury. 201 pps. 

Voting began and the winner was announced at the end of April:  American Gods

Reading begins tomorrow (although lots of people have already started) and we are starting with the first three chapters.  Again, we are welcome to read ahead, but discussion will be limited to the first 3 chapters until a reading schedule is posted.

I'm quite excited about this as I've never read anything by Neil Gaiman, nor is this a typical genre for me.  Michael is going to read it with me (I think...I need to find him a copy) so that will be fun as well. I picked up an excellent used copy at my local retailer (Handy Book Exchange).

If you're on Twitter, follow @1b1t2010 and use the hashtag #1b1t when you post.  If you're not yet on Twitter, this might be a fun chance to join. Just go to and follow the easy instructions!  Gaiman (@neilhimself) is around and we're hoping (of course) that he'll participate.  He has already tweeted about a helpful reading guide:

For those of you reading AMERICAN GODS and feeling all at sea - is a really useful Guide to Gods and America.#1b1t

Read on!


On the gifts of reading

Listening to the audio version of American Wife (Curtis Sittenfeld) this morning while cleaning the kitchen, I was struck by this passage.  Alice, the main character, is at the memorial service for her grandmother, a feisty Pall-Mall-smoking character who spent her days reading everything from Anna Karenina (multiple times) to pulp romances and drinking Old Fashioneds.  As the service concludes, Alice thinks:

Oh, how different my life would have been if I had not grown up in the house with my grandmother.  How much narrower and blander.  She was the reason I was a reader.  And being a reader was what had made me most myself.  It had given me the gifts of curiosity and sympathy, an awareness of the world as an odd and vibrant and contradictory place, and it had made me unafraid of its oddness and vibrancy and contradictions.  

It is difficult for me to imagine life without a love of reading, and the ability to find not just information but pleasure in the imagined worlds of literature.  Everytime I consider buying a movie ticket, I ask myself "Would I rather just buy a book?" and the answer is usually "Yes".   And Alice's grandmother's view of the retirement years definitely resonates with me.

Monday, May 3, 2010

My second assignment

In my genealogical studies, the first assignment was to introduce ourselves.  The second assignment was to identify what we knew when we started researching our ancestry, and what our first step in carrying out our research was.  Here is my response:

When I first began my research, I knew the names of my siblings and parents, and their vital stats. On my father's side, I knew the name of his mother, but she had remarried and the gentleman I know as "Grandpa" was my father's stepfather. I did not know the name of his biological father. My father had died and was an only child, so I was not able to get information directly from him (or any sibs). On my mother's side, I knew both my grandparents names and birth dates, and the names of my mothers siblings, as well as the names of a couple of great-aunts who were still alive at the time.

I had a number of extensive interviews with my mother and was able to get the name of my father's father, as well as the names of my mother's grandparents and their siblings. She also gave me some vital statistics, but mainly only the years and perhaps month. 

My mother also suggested some surnames that she believed were in the previous generation to her grandparents, and this was a big help in further investigations. Even though the information was vague, it gave me some hooks for searches, and confidence when I found marriage and birth records for that generation. She also told me that her paternal grandparents were from Scotland, and her maternal grandparents were from England. This turned out to be only partially true!

More to follow!

Interesting concept...


I've signed up to get an invite. I'd like to try this out, both as a giver and a (potential) receiver!

Back to school?

Not really.

But today is the first day of the first course I'm taking with the National Institute for Genealogical Studies.  It is affiliated with the Continuing Education Department at St Michael's College here at the University of Toronto, and they offer a number of courses that lead to various certificates in Genealogical Research.  The program is online, assignments are submitted online and there are chats at various points throughout each course.  Grades are assessed. 

I'm quite excited about this as it's been a hobby for some time and I've always felt that I'm not very organized or methodical when doing research.  We are so lucky here in Toronto with many resources for primary research, and of course, the internet has fundamentally changed the way historians and researchers can access data when searching for ancestors.  This is the kind of hobby that "could" turn into part time work if I decide to go that way, which would be fun, as it's something that really excites me.

My first course is in Basic Methodology, and in for the first (ungraded) assignment, we were asked to introduce ourselves to our fellow students by posting briefly about the families we are researching and the types of documents/resources we have already accessed. This is what I wrote:

I have been researching my ancestors for most of my adult life (about 30 years), with serious effort made in the past 10 years or so.  

My father’s ancestors were Russian Jews and I have had difficulty making much progress here due to language difficulties and lack of accessible records, not to mention my inexperience.  The families on this side are Berkman and Elstein.  I have had luck with Canadian census records, telephone directories, burial records, as well as with immigration and land grants.  My father was an only child who passed away over 20 years ago, and was not in touch with his relatives.  

My maternal grandfather was (I believe) a British home child with surname Gear, and I have identified a possible immigrant, but am not positive that I have the correct individual.  This is something of a brick wall for me at the moment.  I have used census, newspapers, vital statistics, and passenger lists in my searches here.  His wife was from Aberdeenshire, Scotland with the surname Morren.  I have had some luck with records from Scotland’s People (vital statistics mainly).  There is some interesting history associated with this couple that I am still untangling.  Other surnames that appear in this branch are Forbes, Gordon, and Ross.

My mother’s mother is from England with the surname Goddard.  I have connected with another researcher through a family history association who has compiled a very extensive and well-documented tree that includes my family.  I would like to spend some time confirming details in my pedigree and then write up the history in a narrative format.  Other surnames in this branch are Price and Drury.

So this should be fun!  I'll keep you posted.

Current reads.

Over the past week or so, I've been reading up a storm.  Here's a summary/review of the books I've finished or am in the process of reading:

Juliet, Naked takes us back to the Nick Hornby of High Fidelity. It's the story of an aging rock star who's dropped out of sight, and the small group of obsessed fans who gather via an online forum to discuss his music, lyrics, sightings, and other miscellanea. In particular, it tells the story of his biggest fan and the fan's girlfriend, their pilgrimage to the US to see the highlights of the rock star's career, and the fallout from that vacation. You can pretty much tell where the story is going, but it's a fun ride. Hornsby has an enjoyable style, and this was another great story.

The Man Who Loved Books Too Much: The True Story of a Thief, a Detective, and a World of Literary Obsession (Allison Bartlett Hoover) is the true story of a fraudster who, in order to build a world-class book collection, steals credit card numbers and purchases books from dealers.  An intriguing look at the psychology of this individual who stole to be part of an elite group of collectors.

The Weed that Strings the Hangman's Bag (Alan Bradley) is the second Flavia de Luce mystery, following Bradley's wildly successful The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie.  De Luce is one of the most interesting fictional detectives, an 11-year-old girl with a love of chemistry.  While not quite as successful as his first novel, this was a fun read and I look forward to more of her adventures.

The Other Family (Joanna Trollope)  I love, love, love Joanna Trollope. I've read most of her books, and this is another piece of good storytelling.  Chrissie, mother of three daughters and long-time partner and manager of their father, a musician, faces financial and emotional difficulties when her common-law husband dies, bringing his wife and son from this first (and only) marriage into their lives.  

So Much for That (Lionel Shriver)  I've read a number of Ms. Shriver's books and this recent one is an excoriating look at the health care in the US.  The novel tells the story of a family facing the terminal illness of one of it's members, and how they elect to live out the last days.  Very enjoyable listen (consumed this via audiobook) from the author of We Need to Talk About Kevin and The Post-Birthday World (also highly recommended).

American Wife (Curtis Sittenfeld)  I'm currently listening to this fascinating novel by Sittenfeld, an author who is new to me.  It is the "autobiography" of a First Lady and includes events that bear a remarkable similarity to those in Laura Bush's life.  Sittenfeld captures the inner life of women with cunning accuracy, and I am enjoying this book very much.

Cosmas, or the Love of God (Pierre de Calan)  Am about halfway through this. An apparently very accurate portrayal of a young man discerning his vocation with and order of monks, written by a French bank executive who had no personal experience of this life.  It part of the Loyola Classics series, and a quick little read. 

Solar (Ian McEwen)  Just started this one, so I don't have much to say.  Yet!

In the pile: 

  • Beth Powning The Sea Captain's Wife - I've seen this book everywhere and read a good review.
  • Nicholas Dickner Nikolski - The 2010 Canada Reads winner
  • John Banville The Infinities - Interaction between the family of a dying mathematician and the ancient world of Greek gods.  Well-reviewed.  Haven't read anything by Banville yet.
  • Andrew Solomon The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression - Heard a couple of commentators on CBC referring to this as a must-read for those struggling with depression
  • Tish Cohen The Inside Out Girl - A young adult novel by the author of Town House which I loved.
  • Deon Mayer Dead at Daybreak - Another thriller by this South African author.  I recently read Blood Safari and liked it so much I thought I'd try another!