Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Tuesday miscellany

Last night's presentation of London Assurance by the National Theatre in London was great fun.  It's the second HD satellite broadcast of their plays that I've attended and I really enjoy this format.  It differs from both live theatre and film, an interesting hybrid of the two genres, giving the immediacy of live performance and (some of) the detail/camera angles of film.  I definitely want to catch an opera in this format, and plan to attend next seasons plays.

Alex starts his first day of work today. He's in his second year working at a local day camp, and this week is devoted to staff training. He's been at loose ends for the last two months and this will get his days ordered a little bit.  

I've got a number of things to get done today:

  1. Costco - need items to make sandwiches for reception after a funeral tomorrow
  2. Optician - get broken glasses repaired/buy new frames
  3. Library - return books and pick up holds
  4. Pharmacy - call in prescription
  5. Quilt - continue piecing and press
  6. Genealogy courses - finish Methodology assignments/exam
  7. Fold laundry

I'm finding that if I don't write it all down, the day drifts on and I forget what I need to be focussing on.  I spent a couple of hours on my quilt yesterday and got most of the first set of 96 pieces sewn (two triangles into a square).  I want to finish up that set and press them all before moving on.  

For those of you who are reading this via email subscription, feel free to click through to the blog itself to leave comments on my posts and to visit my other pages.  I have one with a set of links to favorite websites, one each for my Twitter and Facebook feeds, and a list of recent reads (via my amazon estore).  

Monday, June 28, 2010

A little something to help you sleep....

I can't remember where I saw this mentioned....I've been racing through my feed reader these past few days, but I've installed f.lux, a little piece of software that changes the colour of your computer screen in sync with the day. 

From the website:

f.lux ... makes the color of your computer's display adapt to the time of day, warm at night and like sunlight during the day.

It's even possible that you're staying up too late because of your computer. You could use f.lux because it makes you sleep better, or you could just use it just because it makes your computer look better.

f.lux makes your computer screen look like the room you're in, all the time. When the sun sets, it makes your computer look like your indoor lights. In the morning, it makes things look like sunlight again.

Tell f.lux what kind of lighting you have, and where you live. Then forget about it. F.lux will do the rest, automatically.

I've been using it for a couple of days now and it's definitely nice to get a warmer, somehow sleepier colour later at night.  Right now, it's just after 11pm and my screen is a sort of pale orangey-pink.  Check it out here.  It's available for Windows XP/Vista/7 and Mac OS X.  There's also a Linux version.

Home, but still on holidays.

Last week in France was a bit of an emotional ride, but it was such a worthwhile trip on many fronts.  My mother-in-law's diagnosis of cancer of the pancreas was confirmed and she will start chemotherapy later this week.  I met a 17-year-old nephew for the first time.  I got to know some other nephews and in-laws better just for spending time en famille for a week.  And I saw Paris with my sons, who are now old enough to appreciate its beauty, craziness, and wonder.

Alex and I returned to Toronto on Saturday as he starts his summer (camp counsellor) job tomorrow.  Our return was in the midst of the G20 craziness, and I watched some of the rioting on television before turning it off in disgust.  It may also explain the extraordinary security we went through before boarding our flight at Charles de Gaulle Saturday morning.

Yesterday was a bit of a haze....I slept for over ten hours, went to choir and mass and then a reception for our wonderful associate pastor who has been transferred.  I got the laundry together yesterday afternoon, picked up some groceries, and made a feeble attempt at putting some travel stuff away, before we headed to dinner at my brother's place. I fell into bed at 9 and slept until 6 this morning.

Michael and Zouheir stayed on in France for another week, so it still feels like holidays.  Alex will likely be out for much of the week, between camp and his busy social life, so i bought a lot of fruit, stuff for salad, and not much else.  I don't plan to cook a lot this week, particularly with the horrid humidity here.  I picked up Wilson from the kennel this morning and all reports were excellent.  The staff seem to love him and he was suitably excited to see me, provoking a remark from a lady in the waiting room that he should really be a high-jumper.

My two main projects this week are to make significant progress on the quilt I've started, and finish up my two genealogy courses.  I start another one in July, and then one in September.  It's self-directed, and I'm very close to the end on both, so I should be able to wrap them up this week.

Tonight I'm going to see London Assurance, a play broadcast live in HD from the National Theatre in London.  Zouheir was supposed to go with me, but I've invited a friend to take his place. It's an early start (6:30) so we'll have dinner afterwards.

Off to sew!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Music in the street - a la Francaise

[wpvideo YfGTV6fG]

Loved these apparently Spanish musicians when we were out during yesterday's Paris Music Fest, an annual event in celebration of the solstice.

Cathedrale Notre Dame and some random lads...


Alex, Swedish Mike and Canadian Mike in their brand new 5€ sunglasses.

Damned tourists...

You can't even dress them up, much less take them out!


Zou and Alex at Creperie Cluny in the Quartier Latin.

Spotted at Cora (French Dept store): St Michael?


By noted French journalist Gonzague Saint Bris. The cover caught my eye...

Monday, June 21, 2010

Galleries Lafayette - shop in grandeur.


We had a quick breeze through Galleries Lafayette to show the boys the gorgeous cupola. We'll shop at C&A!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

What to read in Paris?

Every time I travel, I spend an inordinate amount of time choosing books to take with me.  Normally, I read books from the library but don't like to travel with them, so I choose things from my home library.  A few years ago, I cleared out all fiction that I had already read and would not likely want to read again, so pickings are good.  As with our recent trip to Italy, I plan to read these books and release them "into the wild" as BookCrossers call it.

  1. I've been reading Neil Gaiman's American Gods for "One Book, One Twitter" (1b1t) and I'm almost through, so it's going with me on the plane.  I also downloaded an audiobook of Anansi Boys by Gaiman onto my iPhone.
  2. Two Inspector Banks' novels (Peter Robinson):  Final Account and Innocent Graves.  I'm reading these in order, and got through two in Italy, so two more in Paris seems about right.
  3. Madame Bovary by Flaubert.  I was looking for something that might feel right to read in France and I guess this hits it.

I've also downloaded some of Rick Steve's excellent tour guide apps and podcasts for my iPhone. Plus a free etour of the Louvre.  I'm going to hunt for one for Versailles as it's a must see for the boys. (Z and I were there when we were young and childless.)  I also found a couple of short audiobooks at the library website, one on the French Revolution and the other a look at some of the artwork in the Louvre.  With boys aged 15 and 18, we hope to do some sighseeing as well as family visits while we're there....when the lads were small, our trips to France tended to focus on family and child activities, so this feels different.

Bills are paid, hair is coloured, dog is booked into the kennel, laundry is in progress, and we have until 5 pm tomorrow to get packed.  Including one emergency orthodontist appointment tomorrow afternoon for Michael and his final exam (French) in the morning.

Au revoir!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Monday Miscellany - last sprint before we leave.

I have been a bad blogger, but it's been a little frantic around here as we have one boy in exams, one man in high work stress, and one trip to Paris (this Thursday) to prep for.  The trip doesn't really feel real, I was remarking to Z last night.  We were in Rome barely three months ago, and Paris was booked very quickly due to my mother-in-law's health issues.  Because we will want to spend a lot of time with her, we're not doing our usual planning for day-trips and excursions.  We're just heading over there with our bags and our prayers.  Alex and I will return after eight days as he starts his summer camp job later this month.  Michael will stay on with his father for another week and do some touring, likely St. Malo/Mont St. Michel and then the chateaux de la Loire.  One of his cousins may join them, and a convertible Golf has been offered up, do it should be a fun road trip for the guys.

Last week was busy.  We saw the Eagles with Dixie Chicks Tuesday night and it was a great concert. I was surprised to see Natalie Maines with a very short haircut.  They did some of their hits, some less familiar music, and a cover of Train's "Hey Soul Sister".  The Eagles played a long set, packed with hits and a very 70s vibe to the staging/video.  We were in a corporate box, so quite far from the stage in the Rogers Centre, but it was a great show that had everyone in the house singing along.

On Friday, I headed to Stratford with some gals from the choir to see The Tempest.  We had a picnic by the lake with napping swans and ducks around our feet, saw the show and then dined at The Church before heading back to Toronto.  It was the first public performance of the Tempest, which has it's media opening in a couple of weeks, and it was a stunner.  Apart from a few sound issues (we had trouble hearing some of the actors when their backs were to us), it was stacked with talent and was received with an instantaneous ovation.  It was lovely getting to know these ladies a little better, and it was a farewell to one of the long-standing members of the alto section who is moving to Stittsville.

The Parish choir is winding down for the year....two more Sundays of singing (of which I'll miss next week while we're away) and then we close for the summer.  So we've been pulling out some familiar music.  This Sunday, we sang Brahms' Lass dich nur nichts nicht dauren (pdf) and John Sheppard's sublime The Lord's Supper (pdf).


I've joined another choir for the summer and we rehearse on Monday nights.  I'll miss the next two rehearsals, one while I'm in Paris.  On June 28th I have tickets to the National Theatre's live broadcast of the play London Assurance which I purchased months ago, before I joined the choir.

Before we leave, I need to finish up one of my genealogy courses, complete a CWL newsletter for our parish bulletin, get the house in order, pay some bills and do all the laundry before we pack.  I've done all the newspaper cancellation/dog boarding stuff so it's really the last minute things that are on my mind now.  Plus supervise study time for Michael.  He writes his last exam on Thursday morning, and we leave that evening.

I may not be back before we leave, but I'll try to post some photos while we're away.

Canadian Government Surplus online.

There was an item in the paper this morning about this site, and so I had a browse through and it's really interesting.  There's such a range of stuff with some really low minimum bids.  Need a Sony Digital Camcorder?  A bike (or a lot of 18 bikes)?  Seasons 1-12 of Southpark on DVD?  A pair of YSL heels (you have to go to Winnipeg for those)?  Also, watches, vehicles, lots of military clothing, scrap material, industrial kitchen equipment, office furniture.  

I was most interested in the musical instrument category, of which there is nothing currently for sale.  But you can browse sold stuff, and two RS Berkeley 907 tubas went recently for under $1000 each.  At least one of them looks brand new, in a hard case.  Comes with white gloves!  Also available were guitars, pianos, a clarinet and a battered looking trombone.  

The downside of this site is that you typically have to pick your purchases up as shipping is not available.  But for a big ticket item within a few hours drive, it could definitely be worth it.  I plan to keep my eye on this site!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

10 Tips for Living a Better Life, One Day at a Time--from Pope John XXIII.

An excerpt from The Happiness Project website by Gretchen Rubin:

One of the most important strategies of my Happiness Project has been keeping my Resolutions Chart. It provides accountability, it prompts me to review all my resolutions once a day, it gives me the gold stars I crave -- when I manage to follow my resolutions...

I love reading other people’s resolutions and their personal commandments, and I was very interested to read the daily decalogue of Pope John XXIII...

One aspect of the list that's worth noting is the emphasis on taking each day as it comes. This mindset is hugely helpful to me. Instead of allowing myself to become overwhelmed and discouraged by imagining how hard it would be to keep my resolutions for the rest of my life, I just take it day by day... Alcoholics Anonymous follows this same approach – emphasizing “one day at a time” to keep a difficult change manageable.

So here are ten tips from Pope John XXIII about how to live a better life, day to day:

1. Only for today, I will seek to live the livelong day positively without wishing to solve the problems of my life all at once.

2. Only for today, I will take the greatest care of my appearance: I will dress modestly; I will not raise my voice; I will be courteous in my behavior; I will not criticize anyone; I will not claim to improve or to discipline anyone except myself.

3. Only for today, I will be happy in the certainty that I was created to be happy, not only in the other world but also in this one.

4. Only for today, I will adapt to circumstances, without requiring all circumstances to be adapted to my own wishes.

5. Only for today, I will devote 10 minutes of my time to some good reading, remembering that just as food is necessary to the life of the body, so good reading is necessary to the life of the soul.

6. Only for today, I will do one good deed and not tell anyone about it.

7. Only for today, I will do at least one thing I do not like doing; and if my feelings are hurt, I will make sure that no one notices.

8. Only for today, I will make a plan for myself: I may not follow it to the letter, but I will make it. And I will be on guard against two evils: hastiness and indecision.

9. Only for today, I will firmly believe, despite appearances, that the good Providence of God cares for me as no one else who exists in this world.

10. Only for today, I will have no fears. In particular, I will not be afraid to enjoy what is beautiful and to believe in goodness. Indeed, for 12 hours I can certainly do what might cause me consternation were I to believe I had to do it all my life.

Which of the ten rang most true for you?

I love Gretchen Rubin's Happiness Project. I bought her book, and did a couple of months of "projects" and hope to pick it up again in the fall.

In all my "catholic" reading, I've somehow missed this daily decalogue of Pope John XXIII. I'm printing it to paste on my fridge and in my journal.

Blog housekeeping.

I've done a bit of interior decorating to take advantage of some new features offered by Posterous, my blogging platform.  Other than the new colour and design template, you'll notice some tabs at the top of the first post that lead you to new pages.  My blog posts will continue to appear here.

Links I Love is just that:  a list of sites that I subscribe to in my feed reader (I use Google Reader) and that may be of interest to my readers.  They are categorized by topic, although many of them fall into multiple categories.

Twitter Feed shows my recent tweets (@jannie_b) on the Twitter micro-blogging platform. It takes you out of my blog so you'll need to use your Back button to return.

Shop with me is my amazon.ca e-store with some recommendations for books and music.  Full disclosure:  I get a small commission from purchases through this page.  There is a link back to my blog on that page.

History Pin! Share or find historical photos.

Historypin is a fascinating new app that lets you share historical photos by "pinning" them to a world map.  You can search for photos by location and through time and compare them to Google Street View shots of the present day.  Want to see a picture of city hall in 1913?  Or how the conference centre looked when it was a train station 50 years ago?  

It's still in beta, and most of the images appear to be from the UK, but I'm looking forward to participating in this exciting project.  Check out the short video below.


Monday, June 7, 2010

Listbean warms my heart.


This is a great new free offering from Zen Family Habits....a set of totally customizable lists! I've already signed up and customized my weekly meal planning list, but I'm also going to get a grocery list customized, as well as some other things. There are a LOT of places to start.

Check it out, if you're like me and need lists to keep your life runinng smoothly.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Gorgeous reno of Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa


On Friday afternoon, I dropped by the museum to check out the newly renovated space. The original tower (that didn't last very long) has been replaced with a gorgeous glass space. Interiors have (apparently) been returned to original colours.

Very nice integration of new with old, say, compared with the ROM, ahem.

Garbage bin at rest stop on 401.


Looks like it originally contained HFCS...

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Recent additions to the feed reader.

In no particular order...

In anticipation of the upcoming Toronto Jazz Festival, Toronto Jazz Blogs.

My older son's blog, A Fragile Harmony, just launched.

The feed from The Catholic Register.

A charming craft (and art!) blog, Penguin and Fish.

The blog of Dr.Christopher Spence, Director of Education for the TDSB. (They don't have a proper feed, which is annoying.)

Boing Boing, a blog I've subscribed to on and off.  I'm "on" right now.  The quantity gets a bit overwhelming, though.

I'm trying to learn to clean things out too.  New rule:  for every feed I add, I need to get rid of something.  Or move it to Twitter, or something.

Working Lego printer adorned with minifigs - Boing Boing

This is terrific!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Got quilt pieces cut out!


I'm making a Jacob's Ladder quilt in summer colours for our bed. I'll start the piecing tomorrow, I hope!  The second photo is the pattern from the book 101 Fabulous Rotary-Cut Quilts by Judy Hopkins and Nancy J. Martin, my go-to book for lovely designs.

Should probably buy stock in Kellogs


Michael goes through 8 waffles per day. I don't even bother with the high fibre ones anymore... just get the club pack from Costco!