Wednesday, April 27, 2011

I'll be back.

I have photos and stories to post from our travels, but I seem to have been struck by some stomach thing.  It started yesterday midday and has really wiped me out. Don't know if it was plane germs, or something I ate.  Should say "we" ate because my dear one also started feeling under the weather this morning.

In the meantime, here are some pictures of Folkestone where we stayed from Wednesday thru Saturday, a lovely seaside town.

<Map source: The Property Purveyor>

The clock tower used to be a church but was destroyed in WW2, as per the plaque.  A memorial on the waterfront says that during WW1, 7 million men marched through the city on their way to war. (Don't forget to click on the small pics to enlarge.)


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Cinderella Outfit Challenge: Grand Prize Winner


The Canadian Opera Company sponsored this contest and they had 60 entries with thousands of votes. Go to the link to see the other four finalists and read the judges comments. Simply gorgeous! So glad to see the interest in Barbie couture.

No offense to English teachers or anything...

Sone of my best friends are in the biz...


From my twitter feed.  H/T @TheBookMaven

Monday, April 25, 2011

Stanley H. Clark: 1933-2011

I found out about Stan's death via Facebook while we were in England.  He was a high school music teacher extraordinaire.  While I didn't take music classes at Glebe, I played percussion in the Senior Concert Band and piano in the Stage Band. The Stage Band recorded an LP, played paying gigs, including in a flotilla on the Rideau Canal, travelled to Cuba, and was an all-round fabulous place to play great music, hang with friends, and get through those teen years. 

I have reconnected with many high school friends through social networking, and there is a special bond with those who were in the Stage Band. Stan's family have put up a Facebook page where many of his former students have shared their memories. As announced on that page:

Stanley H. Clark
Mus. Bac., M.Mus, ARCT, Conductor - Royal Regiment of Canada (Capt. ret.)
Teacher - North Toronto, Parkdale and Glebe Collegiates
Conductor - National Capital Concert Band

After a lifetime of glorious music and marvelous adventure, Stanley H. Clark - teacher, composer, maestro, father, friend - has shuffled off this mortal coil.

Stan’s legacy lives on in the lives of children, grandchildren, countless students and fellow musicians who were inspired under his baton.

No regrets, no condolences. This was a life well lived. Please share your stories and memories at In memory of Stan, support of music and arts in our schools would be appreciated. We suggest or or an investment of your time.

A celebration and final blow in Stan's honour will be held at Christ Church Cathedral, Ottawa, from 12:00 to 4:00, Saturday April 30th. If you’d like to play, bring a music stand; downbeat at 2 p.m.

I would love to be there.

As a side note:  Our son Michael plays in the stage band (among others) at Lawrence Park CI here in Toronto and with the Youth Big Band. Whenever I go to a concert or gig of his, I get extremely nostalgic for my own high school days. He has an excellent school music teacher who is also a brass player, and someone who knows how to swing.  It makes me immeasurably happy to see his pleasure in playing jazz, and love that he loves the same music I did at that age (and continue to love.) He is looking to music as a career and I know how inspiring great teachers are.

Monday Miscellany - there's no place like home.


We arrived home from England to a relatively quick hop through the airport, pleasant weather, and a hot Easter meal courtesy of my sister-in-law. Michael had stayed with them while we were away and so when we went to pick him up, we were ushered in to a lovely meal and our beautiful son, niece, and nephew.

I have a lot to blog about the trip, but I may go in reverse chronological order.  We spent our last 24 hours in London, ensconced in the Hilton London Metrople near Paddington Station.  The area is something of a "little Beirut" as my Beiruti husband called it.  Edgeware Road is lined with Middle Eastern restaurants, cafes, cellphone unlockers, groceries, shisha joints, and travel agencies.  The hotel concierge recommended a couple of restaurants and we had a lovely lunch at Al Araz, and I made use of their free wifi to catch up on some email.  

We headed out to Leicster Square to try to score some theatre tickets for the evening, but neither of our two choices (Wicked or The Children's Hour) had anything of interest.  The latter was SRO and the former only had very poor seats at a low discount.  So we wandered around, and ended up walking back to our hotel along Oxford Circle, doing a little window shopping among the absolute throngs of people. We picked up fixings for a light dinner (and by light, I mean grapes, plain yogurt, chocolate covered Hobnobs, and apple cider.  We also had the remainder of a bottle of port that we'd purchased in Hailsham.) We both had books we wanted to finish and had a relatively early start the next morning, so we settled in for a lazy last night in England.

Yesterday morning, we hopped on the Heathrow Express train and after checking our bags, retired to the lounge for coffee and a Canadian paper. The flight was uneventful... I watched my first celebratory movie post-Lent (Owning Mahoney, a true story about a Canadian bank fraudster, starring Philip Seymour Hoffman and a blonde Minnie Driver) and listened to my audiobook.

More later.  Off to do laundry, grocery shopping, and get started on our taxes.

In the search for the Voice of God...

...some believe Gregorian chants are preferable to folk music

  Apr 22, 2011 

Aaron Lynett/National Post

Brother Brian holds his rosary as he, along with Frater Stanislaus (centre) and Frater Herman Joseph (right) rehearse for their choir specializing in Gregorian Chant at the Holy Family Church in Toronto

When Philip Fournier sings a line of Gregorian chant, it hangs like a puff of smoke in the air before it slowly dissipates above the empty pews below.

The sound, listening to it live from a distance of just several inches away in the choir loft at St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Toronto, is ancient, elemental. The sound originates in his abdomen — a line of text that flows out like a wave, sung in tones that are dark and rich. The words are in Latin. It is not a song so much as prayer that is sung.

Mr. Fournier, with his ragged sweater and perpetual five o’clock shadow, is part of a small cadre of traditionalists for whom singing Gregorian chant is an attempt to restore what they see as the real music of the Catholic Church — sounds that go back to the time when King David sang psalms in the temple. 

If they had their way, they would storm the parish churches and hurl all the guitars and drums into the street because they believe substituting modern music for ancient music has eroded worship.

Philip Fournier

Read the rest at the link above.

I'm a huge chant fan, although realize that to encourage congregational participation in the novus ordo mass, we need to sing familiar hymns and (re-)inroduce these more traditional forms slowly. Both of the parishes I have belonged to since I became Catholic moved to Latin mass parts for Advent and Lent, and my current choir uses a lot of renaissance (and some medieval) music during the offertory and communion periods. We are also (apparently) ordering the Parish Book of Chant and this should go a long way to including more chant in the liturgy.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Travel: Sunday

We got to breakfast by about 8:30, meeting the others. We had decided to go in to a small Catholic Church in Hailsham, St. Wilfrid's, for Palm Sunday Mass, so we called Andrew, our cab driver from yesterday and had him pick us up at 10. 

St. Wilfrid's is a small church, the third builton  that site. The present structure was built in 1952 and contains some lovely devotional articles.   The Mass was a usual Palm Sunday/Passion combination with two gospel readings. The congregation was small, but filled the church and the responses were fullsome. The stained glass window above the main entrance is of the martyr St. Margaret Clitherow.


After mass, we walked northwards towards the centre of town and stopped into a Wetherspoons pub (The George Hotel) for lunch. Then we dropped into a Waitrose to pick up a few things and stopped at The Old School House, now Prezzo, for coffee and dessert before calling Andrew to pick us up.


While we were waiting for the cab, I spotted this clever scupture outside Tesco:


Sunday evening was the opening reception for the conference, and then dinner. Zouheir attended the opening session and I retired to read and relax.

Travel: Friday and Saturday

For a variety of reasons, too complex to go in to, our flights were booked under two different reservation codes.  Although we had adjacent seats on our Toronto-to-Heathrow flights at the time of booking, Air Canada changed the equipment to a smaller plane, which ended up separating our seats.  We discovered this late Thursday night as we were checking in online.  Calls to the travel agent and Air Canada couldn't remedy the sitation, particularly as we learned that the flight was 30 seats overbooked.

We couldn't get it dealt with Friday morning at the airport, so once we boarded we did some negotiating with the people around us and managed to finagle better seats, although it meant that I had a middle-of-three seat.  David Suzuki and his extended family were also on the flight and had also been split up.  I was originally seated next to his wife.  He had been upgraded to business, and his family were just in front of Zouheir.  His wife helped me in organizing a trade and by the time we took off, everyone was happy (more or less).

While we were late leaving Toronto, we landed in Heathrow on time and made our way to the London Heathrow Marriott where we spent the night before our trip to Hailsham Saturday morning.  At 11 pm, we ordered a light meal in the lobby bar and some featured drink using spiced rum and citrus. We were still on Toronto time, but forced ourselves to sleep so that we'd awaken early and try to get on UK time.

As we were checking out the next morning, we saw an incredibly attractive, multicultural flight crew from Emirates Airlines.


I really liked the women's uniforms, with the attractive hat and suggestion of a veil. 

We took the hotel shuttle back to Heathrow, the Express train to Paddington Station, the tube to Victoria Station, and then a train to Polegate, the closest station to Herstmonceaux Castle.  We grabbed a taxi driven by a retired advertising guy who used to work in London.  He was very interesting, is used to shuttling students and visitors to the Castle, and talked about the history and geography of the area,  He left us his number after dropping us off at the residence.


After a little rest and recharge, we got a call from the conference organizer, Agnes Herzberg, who suggested we meet for dinner with her, her Joyce Zakos who is helping with the organization, and John Bailar who had already arrived.  There was a wedding going on in the Castle, so we had a light supper and retired for the eveinng after taking a walk in the gardens.


Thursday, April 14, 2011

Seen Reading


Have you heard about Julie Wilson's (aka Book Madam) Literary Voyeurs project?  She (and a number of helpers) document sightings of books and the people reading them in public. Public transit seems to be a popular source of material, as are bookstores, coffee shops, and restaurants. While it started in Toronto, there are contributors from all over the world. The fomat is what you seen below.

I'm not a formal contributor, but enjoy the "sport".  A couple of sightings from the past week:

  • Location:  Toronto:  61A bus southbound on Avenue Road
    Time of Day:  3:30 pm
    Reader:  Young, Asian woman, long dark hair, wearing white polo tee, khaki shorts, running shoes, and carrying a backpack.
    Book: The Gargoyle.  Heavily studded with pink post-it flags, before and after the page she's reading.
    Author:  Andrew Davidson
    Publisher:  Vintage Canada 

The following were a couple. 

  • Location:  North York.  Doctor's office waiting room
    Time of Day: 12:15 pm
    Reader:  Older woman, grey hair, stylish plastic-frame glasses, bright pink top, black slacks, hose, and flats.
    Book: Barney's Version (paperback).  Almost finished.
    Author:  Mordecai Richler
    Publisher:  Vintage Canada 
  • Location:  North York.  Doctor's office waiting room
    Time of Day: 12:15 pm
    Reader:  Older gent, blue plaid long-sleeved shirt, khaki pants, brown belt, white running shoes, brownish-grey hair and wire-framed glasses.
    Book: The Best Laid Plans (a couple of chapters in).
    Author:  Terry Fallis
    Publisher: McClelland and Stewart

I struck up a conversation with the gentleman while his wife was seeing the doctor. He was laughing out loud while reading and I caught his eye. He told me that his brother out in Vancouver had recommended it to him and he was really enjoying it. He asked me about the sequel (The High Road) and I told him that it was just as good as the first one, and by the time he'd finished The Best Laid Plans, he'd be desperate for more!


    Tuesday, April 12, 2011

    The reading pile.

    We travel on Friday, so I've been in a mad dash to finish up the library books I have to return before we leave.  Currently on the nightstand (and in my purse, and on the coffee table...)

    • Under the Net by Iris Murdoch. I don't have a hope of finishing this library book, so I went looking for it in Indigo last night.  It was marked as £8.99 or $23.95 CDN!  For a paperback!  So I grabbed in for my Kindle at $10US last night.  
    • The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart.  I picked this up while I was waiting for Michael at a 3 hour rehearsal and had neglected to put a book in my bag.  It was displayed in the check-out line at Winners and I've wanted to read it for some time.  I'm just a couple of dozen pages in, but I think it will only increase my appreciation for Young Adult lit.
    • The Postmistress by Sarah Blake. An audiobook, this is set in WWII in the US and London. It's a download from the library and has almost expired, so it's at the top of my list.

    Recently completed:

    • Double Fault by Lionel Shriver. Just finished this last night. I love Lionel Shriver, and have read most of her books.  This one tells the story of a couple who are both on the tennis circuit and how their rankings affect their marriage. I found it very engaging and, although I don't follow or even really like the sport, the commentary on the world of tennis, competition, and rankings was very interesting. It isn't one of her best books, but recommendable nonetheless.
    • An Object of Beauty by Steve Martin. Martin is such a polymath. Comedian, actor, musician, and author. Set in the New York art world, the novel is narrated by an art writer.  He tells the story of the rise and fall of Lacey Yeager, who morphs from a young assistant at Sotheby's to a gallery owner. I learned a lot about the art business while enjoying this novel that is full of intrigue, affairs, and exclusive parties. Highly recommended.
    • Becoming George Sand by Rosalind Brackenbury. This novel left me cold, and I had to force myself to finish it.  A writer, who is having an extramarital affair and researching George Sand, starts to identify with her subject. The action (if you can call it that) switches between the present day and the story of Sand and Chopin. Pass it by.
    • Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman. A preteen girl suffers while living with her bipolar mother. After her mother's death, she is adopted by a great-aunt who whips her down to Savannah into a world of Southern women, gentility, and eccentricity. This novel has been compared to The Help, but that's an exaggeration. They're both set in the South, but this book is much lighter in tone. It was a fun read.
    • Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie. Zouheir put me on to this wonderful novella, originally published in French. Somewhat in the same vein as Reading Lolita in Tehran, two young men being re-educated during the Cultural Revolution in China discover a suitcase with a bunch of (forbidden) french novels by Balzac and others. The audiobook was read by actor B.D. Wong and was very moving. I highly recommend this book.
    • Incredible Edibles:  43 Fun Things to Grow in the City by Sonia Day and Barrie Murdock. This is a wonderful little book with great instructions for starting a small city garden (even one just in planters.) The copy I read was from the library, but I ended up buying this book to help me start a garden this year.

    This is the selection I'm packing on my travels. They will likely not all get read, but a couple of long flights and time on my own at the castle should provide me with lots of reading time.

    • Case Histories by Kate Atkinson.  I chose this because it's set in England and is the first of the Jackson Brodie mysteries. It's on my iPhone.
    • The Edwardians by Vita Sackville-West.  Another novel set in England, Sackville-West was born in Kent (where we'll be spending a few days). I haven't read anything by her before and am very much looking forward to this (and possibly visiting Sissinghurst Castle where she lived for a while.
    • A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby. Love Hornby's books, and this has been downloaded onto my iPhone for listening.
    • The House at Riverton by Kate Morton. I quite liked Morton's The Forgotten Garden, and this is another one set in the Edwardian period. It's on my Kindle.
    • Bartleby the Scrivener by Herman Melville.  It keeps coming up in various things I'm reading, so it's on my Kindle.

    Next week I'll hope to post an update on my reading from England!

      Thursday, April 7, 2011

      I'm a household hurricane...

      Looking forward to seeing my sister and her family tomorrow as they pass by on their way to Southern Ontario.  They'll have dinner and spend the night, so I'm on a mad cleaning and shopping spree.  Having people over is a great reason to get out that vacuum and tackle the dog hair and the popcorn that's fallen between the sofa cushions.  

      Sis been recently diagnosed with a gluten issue, so it's also a great chance to try making some corn tortillas for our Mexican supper tomorrow night. Will also be checking out the gluten-free cakes at Dufflet tomorrow morning, and I've found some gluten-free oats to make porridge in the morning. (Yes, I know, oats don't have gluten, but apparently typical crops can contain traces of wheat so these oats are grown and processed to be completely wheat-free.)

      Tonight, I descend to the basement to deal with the man-cave, aka, Michael's music and entertainment room.  It is a big mess of instruments, cases, music, empty pop cans, video game boxes and controllers, dirty socks, and possibly dirty dishes. Also, his spit container, for when he does whatever he does with his instruments to release built-up whatever. And dust. We need to turn it into a serene sleeping space.  We have one other bedroom down there that just needs a vac and dust.  

      So, I'm off to Costco, Loblaws, and the hardware store.  This'll probably be it for blogging today!

      [Cute pic courtesy of the Graphics Fairy!]

      Wednesday, April 6, 2011

      Gorgeous Easter Egg Craft: Silk Tie Dyed Eggs


      Got some old silk ties you're willing to part with? This is a lovely craft. Tutorial is at the link.

      Tuesday, April 5, 2011

      Why can have too many books.

      Mark Medley's piece Confessions of a Book Hoarder a couple of weeks ago in the National post got widely picked up, seeming to incite a torrent of stories and "me-too" articles. There seems to be a collective nerve that was struck by this piece, and I'm one of those who felt a twinge.

      I sent Mark an email detailing my experiences.  I reproduce it here for my reading public, with the addition of a few links for those wishing to purge (or, God forbid, add to their collection.)


      We are kindred spirits.  I refer to "my little book problem" when it comes up in conversation.

      I've been buying books for 30 years.  Over time, my husband and I moved from a small apartment to a larger apartment, to a small house, then larger house, so we just carted them along with us. A corporate move to the US had me get rid of, oh, a quarter of them. But then the bounty that is The States (Barnes and Noble within walking distance from home, Amazon Prime, Paperback Swap, BookMooch, cheap Media Mail postal rates) saw my collection grow even more.

      We moved back to Toronto and into a small house and I simply HAD to get rid of a lot of books.  I came up with the following purging scheme:

      Get rid of anything that:

      1. I have read before and am not likely to want to read again
      2. I have not read before, is not likely to get anywhere near the top of my to-read pile, and is available at the library
      3. Is non-fiction and out of date (e.g., atlases, dictionaries, general interest computing and science books...)
      4. Doesn't "fit" I no longer hold, out-of-date fashion, hobbies I no longer do, etc.
      5. Is non-fiction and information is easily available online
      6. Has yellowing pages, cracked spine, or would otherwise be annoying to read (and is available to buy/borrow). A lot of my old Penguins fell into that category.
      7. Is moldy, damp, or otherwise unhealthy.  (You'd think that goes without saying....well, maybe not YOU, but most people.)

      I am trying very hard not to bring new books into the house, other than from the library, onto my Kindle, or books that I will want to make notes in or otherwise mark up. I permit books that I'm desperate to read but for some reason are not available at the Toronto Public Library (very few in this category, I must say) and reference books that will not age. (I have a small collection of local history books.)  As I read books from my shelves, I give them away as per #1 above (often via BookCrossing and/or to my local Value Village or library book sale.) Anything else that slips in under the radar (gifts, impulse purchases, freebies) is submitted to the one-in-one-out policy.

      I'd like to get down another 30% but I can only purge at a certain speed. The shelves are no longer double-stacked, and I'm getting to a comfortable place with my books.  



      Monday, April 4, 2011

      RE-35 | Digital cartridges for analog 35-mm cameras


      This looks VERY cool....coming soon!

      Click on the link for more info.

      H/T to Alex

      Where am I reading? First quarter summary.

      Sheila over at Book Journey has a little competition this year, which was the genesis for my Where Am I Reading in 2011? map. She has challenged her followers to read something from every US state. Here's my update that also includes Canadian provinces as well as other countries. Locations I've read from are in bold italic.  To see the actual books, go to the map link above and click on the blue pins.



      It's Monday....what am I reading?

      [Image is a little reminder that pollen season is on the way....]

      I'm getting more and more excited about our trip to England in a couple of weeks!  I've set aside some books set in the area to read while I'm there, but I'd really like a novel set around the time of the Norman conquest. So please leave any ideas in the comments box.  I'll let you know what books I'll be taking with me in next Monday's update.

      Anyway, at present, I am reading Becoming George Sand by Rosalind Brackenbury. The main character, Maria, is having an extra-marital affair while also reading about George Sand and her affair with Chopin. The novel intertwines her current situation with that of Sand, but I'm not very far into it so am not sure how successful this will be. It's set in Edinburgh, so another country added to my Where Am I Reading in 2011 map!  My current audio book is Shopaholic and Sister by Sophie Kinsella. This is the first of her Shopaholic series that I've read, although I've enjoyed a number of her other novels. They are light but very entertaining novels and I love the narration by Katherine Kellgren on the audiobooks. In this novel, rather well into the series, Becky is married and meets her half-sister who is extremely different from her, and Becky is determined to bond with her. I'm about half-way through and it's been fun so far.

      Since I checked in a week ago, I finished up  A Red Herring Without Mustard by Alan Bradley which was just as great as I expected. Bride of New France by Suzanne Desrochers, about a fille du roi, was excellent and I learned a lot about the period and the hardships that these women experienced.  It would be an excellent novel for a teenager studying Canadian history. And speaking of teens, I finished the absolutely hilarious Young Adult novel Alice, I Think by Susan Juby. It's about a fiffteen-year old girl in British Columbia who has been homeschooled (or rather, "unschooled") and has some issues. It's written in a journal format and she chronicles her efforts towards her life goals in quirky yet intelligent narration. If I was a teen in the early 2000s, this is a book (a series, actually), that I would have loved. Sort of a Harriet the Spy for the new millenium. I plan to pick up the next books in the trilogy.

      Finally, I just finished Left Neglected by Lisa Genova. The novel follows Sarah, a high-powered HR exec in an international consulting firm, as she experiences and is treated for a traumatic brain injury following a car accident. The type of damage is called hemispatial neglect (or "left neglect" in this case, since it's her left side). Essentially, she loses the experience of her left side. She's not paralyzed...she just cannot "see" anything to the left, including the left side of her body, the left side of a piece of paper, or her dinner plate, or the room.  It's rather hard to describe, but Genova (who has a PhD in neuroscience) does a fabulous job of evoking not only the physical and mental issues associated with this injury, but the effect it has on Sarah's family and lifestyle. I highly recommend this novel.

      The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins turned out to be an absolutely terrific read, much as so many people had said. As I mentioned last week, it's not the kind of novel I'd normally pick up (dystopian future, kids having to kill each other....) but I was very taken in by the main characters and the world in which they lived. I look forward to the rest of the trilogy.

      As I mentioned to a friend last week, I feel like I"m on a bit of a Young Adult jag. There is such terrific writing out there for that demographic. I may even give the Harry Potter series another try!

      Coming up in paper:

      1. Under the Net by Iris Murdoch
      2. Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman
      3. Double Fault by Lionel Shriver
      4. Incredible Edibles: 43 Fun Things to Grow in the City by Sonia Day

      Coming up in audio:

      1. Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie
      2. A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby
      3. The Postmistress by Sarah Blake
      4. An Object of Beauty by Steve Martin


        Sunday, April 3, 2011

        Duruflé Mania

        I missed choir last week due to illness, but I was happy to be back today, particularly since both of our pieces were by Duruflé.  During the Offertory, we sang Ubi Caritas.

        Here's the Chor of King's College Cambridge....


        Then, during Communion we sang Duruflé's Notre Pere.

        Here's the Ensemble Vocal de l'AVP singing at l'Église Saint Merry (Paris 4e):


        These pieces are stunning in their harmony and forward movement, and are a joy to sing.  While I'm excited to be travelling to England in the next couple of weeks, I'm sorry to not be singing with the choir over the Easter weekend.

        Spring has sprung!


        Spotted on a dog-walk!

        Saturday, April 2, 2011

        Music bonanza!

        I attended the U of T Faculty of Music Spring Record and Book sale last Wednesday and scored some great stuff (no pun intended)! Thanks to Jay Lambie, and old high school friend who works at the Faculty Library for alerting me to this event.


        1. RCM Piano and Theory books for Michael
        2. 40 French Hits of Our Times (not really MY times, but great tunes!)
        3. Ain't Misbehaving arranged for the Canadian Brass (Quintet) - will donate this to Lawrence Park CI's Music Department for their brass quintet
        4. Sammy Nestico arrangements for jazz band of Take The "A" Train and The Spirit is Willing  (donated to Youth Big Band where Michael plays trombone
        5. An arrangement for jazz band of "Sunny" (also donated).

        I was hoping for some trombone or tuba stuff for Michael but there was very little music for brass. Couldn't get anywhere near the CD table!  Lots of swarming around the piano and vocal scores as well. The prices were great and I was glad I got there early. Afterwards, I dropped into Remenyi on Bloor and picked up the RCM Theory syllabus and a book of etudes for Bass Trombone.

        And now, for your listening pleasure.


        Friday, April 1, 2011

        Seven Quick Takes Friday


        Haven't done this for a while, but here we go:

        1. I'm in Guelph for a workshop on Scottish Genealogy with Dr Bruce Durie, Course Director of Genealogical Studies at Strathclyde University.  He's visiting the Scottish Studies department at the University of Guelph and I'm looking forward to getting some tips on researching the Morren branch of my family tree.
        2. I"m staying at a rather low-end hotel close to the university campus and didn't sleep all that well last night.  The air conditioning system is extremely noisy and the room is rather poorly furnished with lumpy pillows and a tiny bathroom.  Don't get me started on the vile in-room coffee. I don't know why I even bother brewing it. There is breakfast offered in the lobby but I am seriously considering just skipping that and hopping across the street to Cora
        3. just announced some new records:  The Canada School Directories. I found a Goddard ancestor in the Annual Register and Business Directory of the Sons of England Benevolent Society for the Dominion of Canada which is a terrific find because I knew very little about him. There also appears to be some old case law in Ontario from the late 1800s with the name Goddard which I will be following up on.
        4. I'm looking forward to our trip to England in a couple of weeks. We'll be staying at the Queen's International Study Centre at Herstmonceux Castle for the first four days and then will travel in Kent. I still need to book some accomodation for those last four days so must get on that this weekend.
        5. We've also booked travel to Stockholm at the end of July, for just the two of us. It will be the anniversary of Zouheir's mother's death in August and there will be a mass said for her. All of her children will be there and we're planning a two-night cruise to Helsinki together which should be lots of fun and a great way to be together with everyone freed up from cooking and hosting:  a very suitable way to celebrate this remarkable woman. It will be my first visit to Sweden and I am very much looking forward to seeing Stockholm, as well as visiting with my wonderful in-laws.
        6. My boys are doing well. Alex's second year at Queen's is drawing to a close, with classes ending in a week and then exams start on the 15th of April. He'll be working as a Section Head at Crestwood Valley Day Camp in July and August and is hoping to do some French study in France in May and/or June if he can find a place to study and get credit. Michael is hanging in for the rest of Grade 10, still busy with Music and working hard to focus on his other schoolwork as well. He's got a gig with the Youth Big Band this Sunday at The Rex (Noon) and concerts with Hannaford coming up as well. He'll also be playing in a masterclass with Patrick Sheridan. He's looking forward to two weeks at Interprovincial Music Camp in August: one week of Jazz (bass trombone) and one week of Band/Orchestra (tuba).
        7. One of the perks of being an opera subscriber is the occasional freebie. Earlier this season, on the evening of the municipal elections (and presumably low ticket sales due to the high anxiety around that election), I got comped two box-seat tickets for Death in Venice which was a terrific show, in all it's depressing glory. Next Monday, we've got invites to a working rehearsal of La Cenerentola (Cinderella).  This is not one of the operas in our subscription package, so I'm excited to be able to catch a freebie, even if in it's un-final form.

        Check out some other quick takes at Conversion Diary.