All posts by Janet

Choral report: Fifth Sunday of Easter

Choir is one of the best couple of hours of my week.

This Sunday, our offertory was based on the second reading (Revelation 21:1-5a). By Edger Bainton, And I Saw a New Heaven is a beautiful piece that we have sung a number of times.

Bainton captures the text beautifully in his melodies, harmony, and dynamics.
And I saw a new Heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away, and there was no more sea.

And I, John, saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

And I heard a great voice out of heaven, saying: “Behold the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them and be their God.

“And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes, and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain, for the former things are passed away.”

During Communion, we sang Tómas Luis de Victoria’s Jesu, Dulcis Memoria. This is a personal favourite of mine and it vies for the top of the list of pieces I’d like sung at my funeral.

Jesus, the very thought of Thee
With sweetness fills the breast!
Yet sweeter far Thy face to see
And in Thy Presence rest.

Final readathon update. I promise.

First of all, apologies to my subscribers for the whole pile of email you got from my blog yesterday. I’ll likely return to silent mode for a while, just like you’re used to.

But here we are. The 24 hour readathon is over and I lasted 18 hours.

Around 1:30 am, I thought that reading from my bed would be fun and comfy. It was getting cold in the house so I grabbed my last book and headed up, leaving behind the little nest that had served me all day.

Unretouched, actual nest of this readathon participant.
Unretouched, actual nest of this readathon participant.

Ollie curled up on the other side of the bed while I continued on with The Empathy Exams. After a few minutes, he dove under the blankets and lay with his head on the pillow and his back pressed against my back. He has never done that before and it was exceedingly cute. And then I started to feel myself get very sleepy. It must have been the rhythmic doggie breathing. I was a goner.

I woke up shortly before 8, the end of the readathon. I had set my phone alarm for 9 am just in case. (I like to wake up to The Stones’ Beast of Burden (soundcloud clip).  I find it the perfectly positive and motivating music for first thing.) I have to be at choir for 10 am on Sunday mornings so this was my cutoff for sleep, regardless of how much I managed to get. Having scored a good 6 hours, I’m ready to sing!

Thanks for following along. If you want to get more of my nonsense, you can subscribe by clicking the button to the right.

Enjoy your Sunday.

Readathon: update and mid-event survey

We’re over halfway through and I just finished my third book. What We See When We Read (Peter Mendelsund) will change the way I read FOREVER. It is a remarkable piece of writing/art and I will return to it often. Anyone who reads seriously, writes, watches films based on books, or thinks about perception will enjoy it

Here is a random two-page spread.

What We See When We Read by Peter Mendelsund. pp 154-5
What We See When We Read by Peter Mendelsund. pp 154-5

But more about me, LOL.

After I finished my last book, I fed my doggie and hit the shower. I got into one of my caftans. (My mother put me on to the Nanso brand of Finnish loungewear. I have a long-sleeved one for winter and sleeveless for summer.) I spritzed on some Orange-scented perfume, a gift from my French goddaughter, for the aromatherapeutic effects, and mixed myself a martini.


For supper I had a big bowl of chilled cooked shrimp, cocktail sauce, and more strawberries. It was kind of a red-themed meal. And them some jujubes for additional colour.


And speaking of colour, my next book up will be Tory Burch: In Color by Tory Burch. It’s a sort of coffee table book and I’m probably not all that interested in Tory Burch, but it fulfills a Goodreads challenge task AND will take my mind off the chaos that is my house at the moment by having me look at her house instead.

Mid-Event Survey

The Readathon peeps have created a little survey for participants to answer, so here’s mine.

1. What are you reading right now?
Technically, I am between books. But starting Tory Burch: In Color by Tory Burch now.

2. How many books have you read so far?

3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon?
The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamieson. I pre-read a few pages and I’m going to love this book.

4. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those?
Just my dog, Ollie, bouncing for his dinner. I fed him.

My readathon pal dozes beside me.
My readathon pal dozes beside me.

5. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far?
I have been pretty light on the chocolate. That may change as we move into the night time hours though.

Readathon Hour 10: progress report

It was a slow, lazy afternoon. My sofa gets lots of sun and I slipped off into my first readathon nap. This in no way was related to my second book, The Detective and the Woman: A Novel of Sherlock Holmes, as it was a terrific read, lots of suspense, and has me hankering to read author Amy Thomas’ next one!

IMG_3018Apart from reading and napping, I snacked. My advance prep on this front was excellent. After lunch I had a Sweet and Salty Caramel Drumstick. In not terribly quick succession: a Coke, a small bowl of mixed nuts, a couple of Nanaimo bars, and a bowl of strawberries. I’ve been on a sugar fast for some time so I went a little wild. I’ve also been pushing ice water which, as we all know, washes excessive calories out of the system.

I’m going to take a shower and change into some pants-less loungewear. (I’m currently wearing sweatpants and a tunic, but with all this snacking sun, I’m feeling the need for a caftan.)

Next up will be What We See When We Read by Peter Mendelsund. This one should be a quickie as it’s fairly image-intensive. But it’s been on my to-read list for a long time. It’s also part of the Goodreads challenge I’m currently participating in (as are all my readathon books this time ’round.)

First completed book: a readathon update.

Just finished Uncle Petros and Goldbach’s Conjecture: A Novel of Mathematical Obsession by Apostolos Doxiadis. It was the first book I reached for and it was a great kick-off to the readathon. The book was full of pencil markings, annoying as it is a library book, and I spent the last 100 pages erasing the marks. (Someone else will have to do the first half.)

I started off the day with a latté, cinnamon raisin toast, and some sharp cheddar.

The book is fiction, but a very lifelike tale of the joys and trials of mathematics, or in particular, being a mathematician. I recommend it for anyone interested in the field, or with a scientific bent. It is out of print but I ordered two copies on AbeBooks to scatter around to mathy people in my life.

Next up is The Detective and the Woman: A Novel of Sherlock Holmes. I met author Amy Thomas at 221B Con a couple of years ago and bought her first two books, which she kindly signed. The readathon was a good time to get at least one of them read!

My bookish childhood.

Hour two of the readathon, we’re asked to relate our top 5 bookish childhood moments. While not really moments, I’ve chosen to share memories. In approximately chronological order:

  1. I have a vague recollection of learning to read from the newspaper with my mom. There was a feature every day that might have involved cutting out letters or something. My sister and I were both strong, early readers, so this was key.
  2. Weekly trips to the library. We started very early. First my mother took us and then we went with our school classes, as the library was pretty much next door.

    Rosemount Library, Ottawa, Canada
    Rosemount Library, Ottawa, Canada
  3. My parents were both big readers, and we had lots of books in the house (as well as our weekly stack of library books.) We didn’t have a television in the living room, so a lot of our time was spent lounging around there with books, while my father played jazz records.
  4. Our parties at the cottage involved candy and reading! We didn’t have electricity up there and it was quite remote. My father would declare a party night, the candy barrel would come out of the storage room, the powerful Coleman lamp would be lit, and we’d all sit around it, reading and eating. This is perhaps why the readathon appeals so much to me: books and snacks!
  5. My favorite childhood book memories are the Winnie the Pooh books, the Narnia books, Harriet the Spy, and the books of fairy tales with colours in the names that my sister always checked out.


Ready to read!

Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon starts in a few minutes and I’m ready to go, with a pile of books and lots of snacks!

Our first “event” is a set of questions to answer about the upcoming challenge:

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?
I’m in Toronto, Canada, in the midst of a beautiful spring.
2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?
Probably What We See When We Read by Peter Mendelsund. It’s full of images as well as text and the topic really interests me.
3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?
Peel-and-eat shrimp, a big pack from Costco. All for meeeee!
4) Tell us a little something about yourself!
I am going to be veery tired at choir tomorrow morning. But it’s my favorite hour of the week.
5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today?
I’ve chosen mostly shorter books to keep the interest level high. I’ve also got a couple of audiobooks on the go so that I can get outside for a walk from time to time.

The Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon Approaches


This will be my second read-a-thon and I’m excited to get going. It runs for 24 hours, around the world, and starts simultaneously. (In Toronto, we’ll be starting at 8 am on Saturday April 23.) More details are here.

I like to have a list going in and this time I’ve chosen some shorter books to keep me interested and motivated, and so that I can change up as I need to. These are all books I’m reading as part of a Goodreads challenge hosted by The Roundtable group.

There is a Facebook group for the readathon as well as a Goodreads group.

If you’re planning to participate, leave me a link to your blog or your Twitter handle in the comments. I’ll be tweeting at @jannie_b.

Dipping into Evernote for Genealogy

I’ve been researching my family history for 30 years, and have had Evernote on my computer and mobile devices for 3 or so. But other than using it to clip the occasional newspaper article, I’ve never harnessed the (apparent) power of Evernote as an overarching organizational tool for managing my research.

As part of my 2016 Genealogy Do-Over (GDO), I decided to get serious about Evernote.

Aside: My Evernote setup. I have the desktop version running on a Mac (running OS X 10.11.2). I also have Evernote on my aging iPad and on my iPhone 6. I use the Chrome browser on all devices and have the Evernote Web Clipper extension on my Mac which means I just click the icon to initiate a new note. I will very likely hit the wall on storage and will upgrade to the Premium product even though it breaks this Canadian’s heart to buy anything in US Dollars these days.

Here is a log of my learning process:

  1. I had a peek through the GDO social media sites and found an excellent piece by Colleen Greene on how she uses it. My temptation was to just take her process and make it mine, but quickly realized that this was a rather hasty decision if Evernote and I are going to be best friends going forward. But I liked her note naming and tagging conventions and mentally tagged these for consideration going forward. (See what I did there?}
  2. I decided to do a quick setup on Evernote, creating a notebook stack called Genealogy that contained three folders (for now at least): Maternal Line, Paternal Line, and Research Tools. (Thank you, Colleen.) I had an old notebook called “Genealogy” that was my holding cell for everything related to family history that I had clipped in the past, and I stuck that in there too with the intent of sorting the notes into their proper homes at some point, say, when I get tired of watching Evernote tutorials. I immediately saved the Colleen Green page above into the Research Tools notebook, and tagged it “evernote” and “tools”.
  3. I googled “evernote for genealogy” and right near the top of the search results was this treasure trove of possibility on the Cyndi’s List site. Templates! I love me a good template. Saved the page into my Research Tools notebook and then spent a few hours going through it.
    1. I had a look through Thomas MacEntee’s article Evernote: Your Virtual Genealogy Assistant for a good review of the features of Evernote. I immediately created a contact called “Evernote” and added the email address to which I can send content to my Evernote account. I also learned from Tonia’s Roots that you can add @<notebookname> or #<tag> to the subject of your email and the note will get automatically filed in the correct notebook.
    2. I found Colleen Greene’s helpful piece on Research Logs and Note Links, the second in her series on Evernote for Genealogy, so I decided to just go through her six-article series and mine it for the nuggets. There’s a free downloadable template for her research log that she uses for each person in her tree. It’s a little complex for my needs but I will create my own template at some point. I don’t want to duplicate what I have in my tree software in Evernote, but simply make it a place to store media, articles, and research goals and checklists.
  4. Finally, I reserved and checked out How to Use Evernote for Genealogy: A Step-by-Step Guide to Organize Your Research and Boost Your Genealogy Productivity by Kerry Scott from local public library. It looks pretty comprehensive and I’ll be perusing it for more ideas. If it looks like something I’ll want to refer to regularly, I’ll purchase a copy.

My next steps are to develop some templates for research goals. I don’t want to duplicate information in Evernote that I already have in my genealogy software, but it will be the best place to capture the outstanding research questions that are active at any given time.



Vancouver Redux

I’m out west for another two weeks. I’m basically a “fixer” for my hard-working spouse. Or maybe a concierge-with-benefits. My thoughts on the morning of the first day:

Packing: I keep telling myself to make a packing list so that I don’t forget stuff. Perhaps it was because we didn’t leave home ’til 6 pm yesterday and I had the whole afternoon to organize myself. But I had to drop off Ollie at boarding, and finish my Coursera assignment and so time reverse-telescoped I guess. I carefully set my noise-cancelling headphones to charge (and then forgot to pack them.) I stashed my fuzzy slippers in my suitcase and then, at the last minute, went to pack my street shoes and they were nowhere to be found (did I leave them in Ottawa?). I didn’t have a reasonable alternative.  So now I will either be wearing boots for the next two weeks or will be shopping. I blithely decided not to bring iPad but forgot that it’s the best way to read the paper first thing in the morning. Forgot my computer glasses.

The travel: We (I?) had cocktail hour before we left home with some cheddar and nuts. Then a glass of wine in the airport lounge with a small salad. Then a G&T and nuts on the flight. We were upgraded into Air Canada’s newish layout of their B777-200LR‘s business class, with fully reclinable seats in a little pod. Dinner took forever to be served and I was headachey and sleepy. I had to be woken up to eat. After the meal, I flattened out and slept for whatever time was left of the flight(an hour?) By the time we landed I had a migraine and major body-ache. We were met by the car service and as I drank the little complimentary bottle of water, I could literally feel my cells expand. Or whatever. I was clearly dehydrated.

The apartment: We’re trying out a new place, close to Yaletown. It’s a shorter walk to work and closer to a lot of stuff I’m interested in (Art Galleries, Library, Cathedral). It’s a smaller place than the last one and is lacking in the fab view, but it has a heated saltwater pool and spa on the roof so there’s that. Apparently a gym but too but I am unlikely to need further details. Today I’ve got to stock up on some basics like soap (body, laundry, dishwasher) and food. It’s the Chinese New Year plus Family Day today and apparently a lot of places are closed. But first, I need to find something to eat and some coffee.

My personal plans for the next two weeks are to:

    1. continue my genealogy do-over with some initial population of my new software and a review of documentation (source citation) methods.
    2. do lesson 2 of The Story Course
    3. get my February reading done:
      – Paris Stories by Mavis Gallant for my IRL book club
      – Breathing Lessons by Anne Tyler for the Goodreads CBC book club
      – The Virgin Cure by Ami McKay, a terrific novel I’m listening to
      – How to Use Evernote for Genealogy: A Step-by-Step Guide to Organize Your Research and Boost Your Genealogy Productivity: my current organization obsession. Just grabbed this from the Toronto Public Library.
    4. Get to the Contemporary Art Gallery (just around the corner from me), walk the seawall around Stanley Park, visit the Bloedel Conservatory, taste-test spirits at the Long Table Distillery, and a lot of wandering.