Category Archives: family

Happy Father’s Day!

In honour of Father’s Day, I’m reposting this piece from last year. All the best to those remembering their fathers today, living or dead.

 

Winnipeg, MB. 1920s
Winnipeg, MB. 1920s

The son of Russian Jews, my father was born to David Berkman and Vera Elstein in Regina Saskatchewan, 1924. I don’t have any pictures of my grandfather; he and Vera divorced when my father was very young and she apparently cut him out of surviving photographs. But his work as a furrier survives in photographs of my father in tiny fur coats.

StitchSCAN0296-SCAN0297
Winnipeg, 1920s. My father is in the front, with his uncles Morris and Louis behind him.

By 1934, they were living in Ottawa where my grandmother worked as a saleslady at the Madame Louise Hat Shop on Bank Street which was run by David, also the proprietor of Berk’s Dress Shop. Vera also worked with fur, and was an accomplished dressmaker. Unlike my maternal grandmother, she wore wigs, nail polish and makeup, exotic clothing, and was something of a style maven.

Vera and her mother Sarah (Alexandra) Meznekoff on Russell Ave in Ottawa. 1950s
Vera and her mother Sarah (Alexandra) Meznekoff on Russell Ave in Ottawa. 1950s

My father attended Lisgar Collegiate where he was known as Bunny Berkman, a nickname my grandmother gave him.

1940s, Ottawa
1940s, Ottawa

He was an excellent trumpet player and led a student combo that included Mort Katz, who still gigs around Ottawa.

LIsgar Collegiate Institute, 31st Annual Concert, Jan 1943.
LIsgar Collegiate Institute, 31st Annual Concert, Jan 1943.

After graduating from Lisgar, he went to Queen’s University as part of the class of Meds49 where he apparently had a very good time. The reverse of this photograph has a woman’s name, phone number, and address on it.

Queen's Football Game, Kingston. late 40s.
Queen’s Football Game, Kingston. late 40s.
Graduation from Queen's School of Medicine, 1949
Graduation from Queen’s School of Medicine, 1949

He did post-graduate studies in Cardiology at Georgetown University under Dr. Proctor Harvey, and returned to Canada to begin working at the Ottawa General Hospital.

He married my mother in 1958. I was born in 1960, my sister Frances in 1961, and my brother John in 1964. My parents bought a cottage in Quebec, north of Ottawa, in 1967 and we spent many summers there. My father was the main family photographer and so there are not a lot of photos with him in them. Here’s one of the five of us.

31 MIle Lake, Quebec. July 1968
31 MIle Lake, Quebec. July 1968

He was an introvert, but well-loved by his students, winning a teaching award at the University of Ottawa Faculty of Medicine. He was intrigued by technology, built a Heathkit television and audio components, learned to program on an early Apple computer, scoured record stores every Saturday for new jazz releases (sometimes taking one of us with him and often “losing” us), and continued to play the trumpet on his own and, from time to time, with his friends.

He died in 1986 of cancer of the duodenum, predeceased by his mother in 1980.

Seven Quick Takes – Who loves ya’?

Seven Quick Takes Friday

  1. I have to admit that after 30 years of marriage, Valentine’s Day has something of a been-there-done-that feel to it. We love each other madly, but really don’t need a day to revel in it more than we normally do. But here’s a shot from a year or so after we were married and spent six weeks in France and England. On the left is Zouheir’s younger brother.

    Jacques, me, Zouheir. Christmas 1984. Villeneuve-le-Roi, France
    Jacques, me, Zouheir. Christmas 1984. Villeneuve-le-Roi, France
  2. I’ve successfully found a home for the memorial cards I blogged about a few weeks ago. The contact I made through ancestry.ca resulted in a referral to a granddaughter of Samuel, one of the younger siblings of the deceased children. He moved with his wife to Winnipeg MB in 1915 and his granddaughter lives on the west coast. I’ve popped the cards into the mail for her.
  3. Last week, I booked a table at a downtown resto for tonight through the Opentable system. Earlier this week, I got a message from them saying that we were seated in the bar, there were no more spots in the dining room, and that we were limited to an hour and a half as they needed the table. I cancelled. And tweeted about it. The restaurant replied to my tweet saying “sorry for the confusion, it’s just an estimate for 2ppl that we try to communicate. You can take as long as you want.” Sorry. Too little too late. Sadly, i’m sure they’ll be fully booked tonight and really don’t care.
  4. We’re seeing Heartbeat of Home, part of the Mirvish subscription series, tomorrow night. This is not something I would buy single tickets for, but Richard Ouzounian gave it 4/4 stars so we’ll see what all the fuss is about. We’ve booked a table at Portico before, a new restaurant (to us).
  5. I’ve made contact with another branch of my ancestry! My maternal grandmother was a Goddard, and thanks to the intrepid work of members of the Goddard Association of Europe, I have connected with a third cousin who is a sheep farmer in northern Ontario (near New Liskeard.) My second great grandfather William and his great-grandfather John both emigrated to Ontario from Kent in the UK around 1870. The children of Willam came south to Toronto and his grandfather John Jr. went north to Temiskaming. Very exciting! We’re hoping to meet up sometime in March when he’s passing through Toronto.

    Great-grandmother Minnie, Grandmother Daisy, Great Uncle Percy, Great Grandfather Stephen
    My Goddard ancestors: Great-grandmother Minnie (Price), Grandmother Daisy, Great Uncle Percy, Great Grandfather Stephen
  6. House of Cards season 2 is now available on Netflix. This may be our Valentine’s Day watching tonight. Yesterday, President Obama tweeted

    Here’s the trailer for the new season:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gBabKoHSErI

  7. I’m still loving my Bulletproof Coffee every morning. Check it out if you’re looking for a way to feel energized and productive. I’m gonna post more on this topic soon.

Lots more Seven Quick Takes over at Conversion Diary!

Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in high school anymore….

My trip to Montreal last week to visit Michael was as lovely as it could have been, given that I had a cold and was not feeling 100% (or even 25%, to be honest.) Because I was driving from the cottage, the trip was only three and a half hours or so, the start of which was through lovely Ontario farmland as I headed west to the 401 at Brockville. I stopped there to walk around a bit and re-energize myself, and arrived in Montreal late in the afternoon.

I checked in to the charming Hotel Kutuma, recommended to me by a friend and offering an excellent rate on Hotels.com. It’s on St. Denis near Sherbrooke, walking distance to Michael’s apartment, and surrounded by cafes and shops. It’s small hotel above an Ethiopian restaurant, and my room was luxurious with an African theme. It had a kitchenette, gorgeous bathroom, multiple heating and cooling controls, and a little balcony overlooking the rear of the building. There were even two wrapped toothbrushes with mini-toothpaste tubes in the bathroom, a first for me.

The bonus for this post-Thanksgiving trip was that Michael had performances with two of the ensembles he’s in, on two successive nights. He’d elected not to come home over Thanksgiving so that he could have more time to prepare his repertoire, and his flat-mate, another music student, did the same.

We had a quick dinner at a local pub (Ye Olde Orchard Pub and Grill) where I realised I was having my first drink in a public location with my son who, in Quebec, is of legal age (18). His call was for 6:30 so I dropped him off at the music building and took my time finding parking (a difficult feat I must say in this bustling city.)

The concert was Opera Choruses presented by the Schulich School Singers and was very impressive. The director, Patrick Hansen, walked us through the different chorus groupings, and the choir was joined by members of Opera McGill when required.

Schulich School Singers, October 2013.
Schulich School Singers, October 2013.

The concert finished with the spectacular show stopper Who holds himself apart from Peter Grimes (that I’d seen very recently at the Canadian Opera Company.) Michael confessed to me afterwards that there was some amount of chaos in the choir during a couple of moments of the performance, but with Britten, it’s sometimes hard to tell. It sounded fantastic to me.

Michael is one of a handful of non-voice majors in this ensemble and remarked that his voice is really [technical stuff that I didn’t understand but is good.] He likes to push himself and be around musicians working at a higher level than he is. He credits his voice teacher here in Toronto (Paula Wickberg) for giving him a great foundation for singing at this level, and also for talking him (texting him?) through the audition process.

I spent much of the second day lounging around at the hotel, trying to feel better. I had told Michael that I’d take him to Costco or wherever, but I really didn’t feel up to it and his schedule didn’t have very many openings. So we simply had dinner at Frites Alors! and arrived at Tanna Schulich Hall for his second concert, this one with Jazz Orchestra I.

Michael auditioned on his bass trombone for the McGill jazz orchestras (big bands, in other words) and didn’t think he did very well. The audition was just sight reading, and he hadn’t picked up his trombone very much over the summer as his main focus was getting ready for the tuba ensemble auditions. So he was surprised to get placed in the top of the three orchestras, the only non-Jazz student. The group is led by Joe Sullivan and the concert featured three of his original compositions, as well as pieces by Duke Ellington, Thad Jones, and John Coltrane. No doubt his years in his high school stage band and two years with the Jazz.fm Youth Big Band paid off, as well as a series of lessons with Barnaby Kerekes and Jules Estrin.

McGill Jazz Orchestra I
McGill Jazz Orchestra I

They sounded great, and I was hoping to find a video online of the band but no luck. Michael plans to take some courses from the Jazz department (even though he’s in the classical program) as he’s headed for a rather eclectic musical career.

The next morning we met for breakfast before I headed home. I recall the last couple of years of high school, when all he wanted was for it to be over and to be able to focus on what he loved: music. He seems really content, is making friends, and enjoying Montreal. He’s managing to combine all of his interests (classical tuba, jazz trombone, and singing) into an academic program that will prepare him for whatever comes in the future. We’re proud of him for following his dream and, as parents, that is what you want for your children.

IMG_0007

 

 

But what will he do when he’s finished university?

I get asked this question a lot recently.

Michael. TSYO, 2012.
Michael. TSYO, 2012.

My younger son Michael has started a music degree in performance at McGill. Neither my spouse or myself have professional artists in our lineage. It’s sort of “not on” to pursue a life in the arts, with all the uncertainties around earning a living wage.

I’ve always been a proponent of following your bliss. Both my husband and I followed our bliss into mathematics and ended up in satisfying careers, albeit not particularly mathematical. I was given various types of advice about “falling back on” accounting or teaching, but neither of these were what I wanted to do. My spouse felt a great deal of pressure to enter a profession such as engineering, and while he was pursuing graduate studies, to stop working and get a job.

Our older son did mathematics but really didn’t have much of a clue about what he wanted to do when he finished. Late in his undergraduate career, a new field of work opened up, one that was not really in his awareness when he started. He’s now pursuing graduate studies in that area and is excited about being able to pursue multiple interests in that field.

But music? Really? Orchestra jobs are so hard to get. How will he make a living? At least he’ll be able to teach. These are all comments that have been made about his dream.

Recently, one of his early tuba teachers celebrated a birthday and, in response to all the good wishes that poured in over Facebook, posted this:

31 years old. living my dreams, chasing others, and surrounded by people and music that i love dearly. life is good. I noticed a touch of grizzle in my whiskers, and i’m ok with that. in other news, i’m going to have a party in a few weeks when work calms down a bit. thanks everyone for the love!

Read his bio if you have a minute. Rob has been a mentor to Michael, and although he is eking out a living in this expensive city, he manages to travel and work doing what he loves.

His current teacher is one of the legion of hourly wage employees in university music departments. In fact, he teaches in two schools, in two cities 6 hours apart, and plays in an orchestra in the second city. It cannot be an easy life.  A friend of mine is in a similar position, commuting weekly between Toronto and London, Ontario to teach in two post-secondary institutions. But (presumably) they are following their bliss.

I am proud of what Michael is doing. He knows that life may not flow as easily when he finishes as some of his contemporaries. But when you look at employment data for young people these days, NO one is having an easy time. But at least he’ll be spending the next few years doing exactly what he wants to be doing, and for that (and so much more) I am happy.

If you need more convincing, consider this:

Another one is ready to fly

The man-child is leaving the nest today. We’re packing up the SUV and he’s heading to Montreal where he’ll be studying music at McGill.

TSYO Winter 2013 Concert
TSYO Winter 2013 Concert

He’s my younger son, the one I that homeschooled for almost three years when we lived in Atlanta. He’s funny, sarcastic, and has been the household (and car) music director, always surprising us with what he has on his iPod.

Bermuda, 1995. With father and older brother, Alex.
Obligatory baby pic. Michael at 3 months.
Homeschooling project: making rock candy.
Homeschooling project: making rock candy.

He studied for a couple of years of Saturdays at the Toronto Japanese Language School, and won the Idea Prize for his depiction of the character for “Sword”.

Nihongo Art Competition Winner (2009)
Nihongo Art Competition Winner (2009)

Michael started studying the tuba in Grade 8 at St. Michael’s College School. He was disappointed that art got swapped out for music as the students moved into that grade, and signed up for private music lessons so that he could get out of music one period a week. An assessment of his embouchure led to the option of playing euphonium or tuba. Michael will be forever indebted to Dan Douglas, the music teacher at SMCS, for pointing him in that direction.

He has had a series of wonderful teachers. He started with Courtney Lambert who had to put up with his lack of organization skills and time management issues. She went on leave late in the school year (I hope it wasn’t because of Michael…) and Rob Teehan stepped in to fill the gap.

Rob was a young guy, starting out in his musical career, and Michael was (by choice) his only private student. Rob has since gone on to form and play with the Heavyweights Brass Band, the Lemon Bucket Orkestra, The Boxcar Boys and compose. He was composer-in-residence with the National Youth Orchestra of Canada winning a Juno-nomination for his work Dreams of Flying. He’s also started on a film-scoring journey. Michael very much looks to Rob as a mentor, and Rob is always available for advice and thoughts about life as a musician.

Michael met Sasha Johnson while playing with the Hannaford Youth Band. Sasha was a tubist in the Hannaford Street Silver Band at the time. Then Michael had the opportunity to study with him at the Interprovincial Music Camp and decided to start private lessons with him. He will continue to study with Sasha at McGill.

Michael jammed in a couple of last minute  lessons this week with his voice teacher, Paula Wickberg. He wants to try out for an early music vocal ensemble at McGill so he’s been preparing a piece by Monteverdi. He’s also hoping to put his trombone to use in Montreal, but we haven’t heard much from it his summer as he’s been playing tuba with the Weston Silver Band and preparing for ensemble auditions.

I joke that his room will become my sewing studio once he’s gone, but I will miss him dearly. His good-humoured presence and conversational skills have been a force for good in this household.

Our new grad

Our older son, Alex, graduated from Queen’s in Math this spring. We attended convocation which was lovely, a big change from Zouheir’s and mine which was held in the now-demolished arena. Alex’s was held in Grant Hall, a lovely historic building on campus and something of an icon. Four disciplines received their degrees, both undergraduate and graduate: mathematics, physics, computer science, and geography.

Principal Daniel Woolf addresses the candidates.
Principal Daniel Woolf addresses the candidates.

There is much pomp and ceremony in a Queen’s convocation. From organ music, to bagpipes that pipe in the procession, to the beautiful space. It lasted about an hour and a half, including an address by the recipient of an honorary doctorate, Peter Nicholson.

Graduates file onto the stage as their name is called, they are “hooded” and then congratulated by the rector, principal, and a representative from the alumni association.

There was a reception afterwards in Jeffrey Hall for the math grads, with an opportunity for parents and students to mingle with staff and faculty. And to take pictures.

Proud parents!
Proud parents!
The Math class of 2013.
The Math class of 2013.

We also got a nice picture of the breakfast club from the summer of 2012. Alex worked for Professor Agnes Herzberg, who made coffee every morning. They’d be joined by another student Ed Belk and Professor Mansouri for coffee and current event chat before the work day began.

Alex with last summer's "breakfast club": fellow math summer research assistant Ed Belk, Alex, Prof. Emeritus Agnes Herzberg (Alex's supervisor), Prof. Mansouri.
Alex with last summer’s “breakfast club”: fellow math summer research assistant Ed Belk, Alex, Professor Agnes Herzberg, Professor Mansouri.

Professor Herzberg gave Alex a coffee mug with an image of Jeffrey Hall on it, and we grabbed a moment when the rain held off to get an outdoor pic.

Professor Herzberg, Alex, Zouheir (proud father)
Professor Herzberg, Alex, Zouheir (proud father)

Thirty-one years ago, I graduated from the same department. A few pics:

Zouheir and Janet, Queen's Graduation, 1982.
Zouheir and Janet, Queen’s Graduation, 1982.

 

Me, with mother and grandmother. June 1982.
Me, with mother and grandmother. June 1982.
Queen's Math Class of 1982.
Queen’s Math Class of 1982.

Alex has begun a Master of Management Analytics at the Queen’s School of Business, which is held in Toronto. It uses the Executive degree model, running on Wednesday evenings and alternate Saturdays to permit full-time employment. Alex is hot on the trail of work, and has started a blog that will have present some of his work in analytics. He’s making use of all the open data that is coming on-line in Toronto to do some interesting analyses. Check it out and leave him a comment!

 

Seven Quick Take Friday – Leaving on a Jet Plane

Seven Quick Takes Friday

  1. I’m off to Vancouver today on the early morning flight. Zouheir has been out west since last Monday and will be there until next Thursday evening so I decided to cash in some points and join him for the weekend. I haven’t visited for years, probably in the 90s sometime, so I’m looking forward to seeing the sights. We have a reservation on Tojo’s on Friday evening (thanks for the recommendation, Kathleen!), and then I’m hoping to get to the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia, maybe Granville Island if the weather is good. Or just walk the city.

    Creation/Raven – Bill Reid
  2. Michael has been subbing on Eb tuba with the Weston Silver Band this summer. They’ll be playing some free concerts in this part of Ontario and I hope to get out to at least one: Ancaster on July 14, Stratford on July 21, and Orillia on July 28.
  3. The Toronto Symphony Orchestra has a couple of events as part of Luminato this weekend. Their big free concert at David Pecaut Square is tonight at 8. Billed as a “Symphonic Birthday Party”, Verdi and Wagner make up most of the program this year. Tomorrow afternoon, they’ll be hosting a “Music Mob” in the same location. Folks can dust off their instruments, download the music, and show up and play with the pros. As a member of the TSYO, Michael has been recruited to assist Mark Tetrault, the TSO Principal Tuba as well as other tubists who show up to join the fun. Michael’s had a couple of lessons with Marc and he’s a great guy. Sadly, I’m missing both these events due to my Vancouver trip. Hit the link above if you want to join them. They have simplified instrument parts if you think you need them!
  4. Alex has been in Kingston this week, starting his Master in Management Analytics program. It’s part of the Queen’s School of Business, but classes are (normally) held in Toronto. This week is kind of the kick-off where students get to meet one another, are placed into multi-disciplinary teams, go to classes, and generally socialise. (Apparently a river cruise is part of the program.) The next module starts in Toronto on July 3rd.
  5. Michael never fails to find the funniest stuff online. Yesterday he showed me this: classical sculptures dressed as hipsters. Click on the link. You will not be disappointed.
  6. Vegan Before 6 update: I’m now drinking my coffee black or with heated almond milk. I’ve discovered some new veggie prepared products, and this week made a big pot of vegan bolognese sauce so that I could have leftovers for lunch (or breakfast.) It’s a bit of overkill really… I regularly make tomato sauce for pasta and don’t bother with meat (although adding some crumbled spicy sausage is terrific), but I picked up some Yves Veggie Ground Round and threw it in, along with some fresh herbs from my new planter. So far, so good. We’ll see what eating out this weekend does to the plan. I see some soy lattés in my future. I also neglected to order a vegan meal for my flight today so that may require a cheat.
  7. Reading: This weekend, I’ve packed my current Dominick Dunne novel as well as my Kobo. I’ve got Sussex Drive by Linda Svendsen and Howard Engel’s Man Who Forgot How To Read. I’m also finishing up Skios by Michael Frayne on my ipod (Overdrive Audiobook) and have some new short stories by William Trevor (A Bit On The Side) queued up.

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For father’s day. A little about mine.

Winnipeg, MB. 1920s
Winnipeg, MB. 1920s

The son of Russian Jews, my father was born to David Berkman and Vera Elstein in Regina Saskatchewan, 1924. I don’t have any pictures of my grandfather; he and Vera divorced when my father was very young and she apparently cut him out of surviving photographs. But his work as a furrier survives in photographs of my father in tiny fur coats.

StitchSCAN0296-SCAN0297
Winnipeg, 1920s. My father is in the front, with his uncles Morris and Louis behind him.

By 1934, they were living in Ottawa where my grandmother worked as a saleslady at the Madame Louise Hat Shop on Bank Street which was run by David, also the proprietor of Berk’s Dress Shop. Vera also worked with fur, and was an accomplished dressmaker. Unlike my maternal grandmother, she wore wigs, nail polish and makeup, exotic clothing, and was something of a style maven.

Vera and her mother Sarah (Alexandra) Meznekoff on Russell Ave in Ottawa. 1950s
Vera and her mother Sarah (Alexandra) Meznekoff on Russell Ave in Ottawa. 1950s

My father attended Lisgar Collegiate where he was known as Bunny Berkman, a nickname my grandmother gave him.

1940s, Ottawa
1940s, Ottawa

He was an excellent trumpet player and led a student combo that included Mort Katz, who still gigs around Ottawa.

LIsgar Collegiate Institute, 31st Annual Concert, Jan 1943.
LIsgar Collegiate Institute, 31st Annual Concert, Jan 1943.

After graduating from Lisgar, he went to Queen’s University as part of the class of Meds49 where he apparently had a very good time. The reverse of this photograph has a woman’s name, phone number, and address on it.

Queen's Football Game, Kingston. late 40s.
Queen’s Football Game, Kingston. late 40s.
Graduation from Queen's School of Medicine, 1949
Graduation from Queen’s School of Medicine, 1949

He did post-graduate studies in Cardiology at Georgetown University under Dr. Proctor Harvey, and returned to Canada to begin working at the Ottawa General Hospital.

He married my mother in 1958. I was born in 1960, my sister Frances in 1961, and my brother John in 1964. My parents bought a cottage in Quebec, north of Ottawa, in 1967 and we spent many summers there. My father was the main family photographer and so there are not a lot of photos with him in them. Here’s one of the five of us.

31 MIle Lake, Quebec. July 1968
31 MIle Lake, Quebec. July 1968

He was an introvert, but well-loved by his students, winning a teaching award at the University of Ottawa Faculty of Medicine. He was intrigued by technology, built a Heathkit television and audio components, learned to program on an early Apple computer, scoured record stores every Saturday for new jazz releases (sometimes taking one of us with him and often “losing” us), and continued to play the trumpet on his own and, from time to time, with his friends.

He died in 1986 of cancer of the duodenum, predeceased by his mother in 1980.

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Seven Quick Takes Friday

Seven Quick Takes Friday

  1. Out of the mouths of my man-babies (shared this week on my Facebook timeline):

    While standing by the toaster, trying to get the other son to finish the older bread, says to the other “It’s really *godfather* to eat the heel of the loaf.”

    My young tubist was off for a gig at the Conservatory <this week>. Dressed in a black suit, white shirt, polished shoes, and hipster specs, his comment: “I’ll fit right in with the rush hour crowd. Except for the tuba on my back.”

  2. My little problem has been fixed,
    My little problem has been fixed…

    Thanks to a Facebook friend, I was encouraged to visit the Apple Store regarding the smashed back of my iPhone. Sure enough, the repair was $29+tax. If it’d been the front (screen) it would have been another story. I learned the lesson that a phone is not a particularly good thing to use as a bookmark, particularly if you leave it on a counter above a ceramic tile floor.

  3. Jawbone Up band in mint-green

    I did a little browsing in the Apple Store while I was waiting (the 10 minutes!) for my phone to be repaired. I came home with a Jawbone Up band, a little bracelet that you wear on your wrist to monitor your physical activity and sleep patterns. The accompanying app also lets you easily track your diet (using barcodes or manual search and a huge database of stored foods.) Even though it was a rainy day yesterday and I spent a lot of it indoors, I managed to log over 7200 steps. (My goal is 10,000 per day). You can set the band to vibrate to remind you to get active every so many minutes, and also to wake you up in the morning. I am very excited about this (as I am about so many things these days). I’m hoping my spouse might consider wearing one as well. Mine is a beautiful turquoise (although they call it mint-green). The band is compatible with iOS and Android.

  4. I gave up on Linden MacIntyre’s Why Men Lie. I really enjoyed his previous novel The Bishop’s Man, but I just couldn’t get in to this one. It’s on my Kobo, so I can come back to it later if I want.
  5. I picked up VB6: Eat Vegan Before 6:00 to Lose Weight and Restore Your Health . . . for Good by Mark Bittman when I was at Winners of all places. As I believe I’ve mentioned before, I’m heading that way, both in terms of improving my diet as well as shepherding the resources of the planet more effectively. Essentially, he proposes that you eat a vegan diet before 6 pm and then at will after that.
  6. Michael and I went to the TSO last night and heard Joshua Bell and Edgar Meyer as featured soloists. Bell is astounding, kind of my Perlman for the new millenium or something. He opened the second half with Ravel’s Tzigane, rapsodie de concert for Violin and Orchestra which begins with an extended solo before the orchestra joins in. I would pay the price of my ticket to hear that piece again. Meyer was featured in his composition, the Canadian premiere of the Concerto for Violin and Double Bass. I was underwhelmed by the composition, but that may just be my lack of comfort with modern repertoire. Or maybe it just needs another listen. The playing by both Bell and Meyer was magnificent. The concert opener (Copland’s Appalachian Spring) and closer (Respighi’s Pini di Roma) were absolute barnbusters, the kind of music that just opens up your heart.
  7. Tonight: The Giacomo Variations at the Elgin Theatre, featuring John Malkovich as Casanova. My date is arriving at 5pm, flying in from a week in Vancouver, so I hope his flight is on time. We’ll probably grab dinner at The Paramount.

And now my Up band is vibrating to tell me that I’ve been idle for too long! Gotta run. Consider subscribing to my blog by email (or follow me in WordPress) – use the box on the right if you’re reading this in a browser.

For more Seven Quick Takes Friday, visit Jennifer at Conversion Diary.

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Jack’s First Communion

I haven’t been to many First Communions. I became Catholic as an adult, as did my brother John, so I didn’t grow up with the sacrament, nor did I have many Catholic friends whose children passed through this stage. From this limited experience, I understood that this typically occurs outside of a regular Sunday mass. Not so at Our Lady of Perpetual Help here in Toronto. The children receiving for the first time did so during mass with their families, with no other to-do than an acknowledgement of the importance of the day in the homily, a brief assembly at the front of the church, and a request that the children process out of the church first for photo op immediately after mass on the front steps of the church. The priest spoke about the reason for this: that the children are becoming part of a larger community and that while this is an important step in their lives, it is something that they do together with the body of Christ in the Church. John’s eldest son Jack went through this with his classmates this morning. After the service we convened to their home for lunch with family and friends. A snap of Jack with my men:

Alex, Jack, Zouheir (his godfather), Michael
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