Category Archives: Toronto

Middle East Prayer Service in memory of Syriac Christians killed in Iraq

Last Thursday’s Prayer Service for Christians of the Middle East was a powerful evening of prayer and support for a community suffering. More than 600 people came together from across the Archdiocese with faith leaders from 15 participating to demonstrate their support.

For those who were not able to join us at the Cathedral, Salt & Light Television will be airing the prayer service this Saturday, November 20, 2010 at 8:30 p.m. with an encore showing on Sunday, November 21st at 1:30 p.m.

It’s an opportunity to hear the gospel proclaimed in Arabic, reflections from the Syriac Catholic Bishop of the United States and Canada, Bishop Yousif Habash, as well as our own Archbishop Thomas Collins sharing his own thoughts on the current plight of Christians in an increasingly violent region.

Charles Lewis also has an interesting piece on Holy Post regarding the Prayer Vigil and its broader significance. You can access the story here.

Thanks to all those who worked so diligently in a short time frame to organize this special evening of prayer and communal support.

We continue to offer our thoughts and prayers for all those Christians who continue to suffer in the Middle East and around the world.

Photos: Bill Wittman

Sadly, we were unable to attend, but our hearts are with all those who are suffering.

You never know where KISS is gonna pop up…


I attended the wonderful Creepy Classics concert with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra on Saturday night.  It was a great program of short-ish pieces, all with a spooky theme.  The evening started out with Bach’s Toccata from Toccata and Fugue in D minor BWV 565, with a stage dark, the organ lit in blue, and a witch in a tall pointed hat on the organ.  We got some Mussogorsky, two pieces from Bernard Herrman from work he did for Hitchcock in Psycho and Vertigo, plus Saint-Saens, Berlioz, and Stravinsky.

The musicians were all in costume, and a number of shots were posted this morning on their Facebook page.  I think the award for creativity goes to the trumpet section who blessed us with their KISS getup.  

It was a great night all ’round.

Photos courtesy of the TSO Facebook page.

An alternative view of the AGO.


I had never been around to the rear of the new-ish Art Gallery of Ontario transformation (Frank Gehry) until last Friday when I found myself with some time to kill between dates. I settled onto a bench on Grange Park and enjoyed the sun and a good book. The back of the gallery is such a contrast to the front, yet almost as interesting. The shots above are from my iPhone, so not the greatest of quality.

Below, an image of the front facade from the AGO website.

Also from the AGO website, a shot of the staircase (above) from the inside.

"I read about it in Maclean’s."

I”m reading The Parabolist by Nicholas Ruddock, a highly-acclaimed first novel set in Toronto in the seventies that follows a small group of medical students and their interaction with a Mexican poet (from whence the title comes.)  Ruddock is a family physician in Guelph, Ontario, and I’ve been enjoying the story, not just for the subject matter but for the setting in my adopted city.

The Toronto references are fun, as are the characterizations of the players.  Sometimes they intersect.  An older couple, parents of two brothers who are in the same class at the medical school, live on Glengrove and the are neighbours to the poet, who lives with his aunt and uncle.  One afternoon, the husband looks out an upper storey window and, peering into the neighboring backyard, sees the poet on the receiving end of a sexual act.  Late on that afternoon, while weeding his garden, we read

The professor began to feel more composed.  He turned his thoughts from Roberto Moreno and the girl to their own bedroom, June lying beside him in the night as they talked and talked as all parents did, the mahogany bed inlaid with mother-of-pearl.  They slept and sometimes made love, almost always in the dark, and then he realized, had she seen what he had seen, he could have said to her, to June, wasn’t that interesting, what people will do these days, outside?


And she might have said, yes, dear, but I think it’s something they do more of these days, oral sex.  I read about it in Maclean’s.

Must see: The Warrior Emperor and China’s Terracotta Army.

I had a lovely day out with two friends.  We met at the Royal Ontario Museum to take in the Terracotta Warrior exhibit, here from China.  These artifacts are from the Qin dynasty, and include some of the full-sized sculptures of warriors, administrators, and horses.  It’s the first exhibit of these items in North America and it’s very impressive. Zouheir had the privilege of seeing them in the original site of their discovery when he was in China last year, and so I was happy to see the exhibit here in Toronto with friends.  We spent a couple of hours at the exhibit.  The documentation was excellent: a mix of text, photographs, maps, and video commentary that added to the excitement of seeing these ancient artifacts. 

At noon, we went upstairs to C5 for lunch, the elegant restaurant added to the ROM during the renovation.  On the top floor, it has lovely views to the south and west of Toronto, including a new garden/green roof that was added since I was there last.  While still relatively young, it provides a respite from what was a rather “industrial” view of the adjoining rooftop.

We all chose the special Terracotta Warrior menu (pdf), starting with a hot and sour egg drop soup, a choice of two entrees (Duck Confit or Tong Mein Noodles), and then a fabulous puff pastry with mango puree, fresh fruit, and sesame ice cream.

The exhibit is a must-see, and is on until early in 2011.  With the wonderful conversation and a delicious lunch, we’re making plans for another outing next month.

Exciting Connections: Conference Update!

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

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

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

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

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

Seven Quick Takes Friday


Welcome to visitors from Conversion Diary and Company Girls.

  1. Z and I went to the preview of Cooking With Stella last night, courtesy of Mika at Good Egg who tweeted an offer for a double pass.  Dilip Mehta, the director and co-screenwriter was there and took questions at the end of the film.  Before the screening, Mehta suggested we look at it only as a comedy.  I didn’t understand what he meant until afterwards.  The film addresses the relationship between employers (in this case diplomats living in the Canadian compound in Delhi) and servants (the Indian staff), and is a look at the discomfort that can arise for both parties, as well as the various “businesses” that the cook runs given her access to duty free goods and the apparent wealth of her employers.  It stars the most fetching Don McKellar .  You can view the trailer here

  2. Tuesday afternoon, our hot water tank went.  I was trying to do some dishes and the water wouldn’t get hot.  It’s a rental tank from our local gas company, so I got on the horn and, after looking at our file, they determined that the tank was 18 years old.  At that point, they just decided to send out a replacement tank, which came the next day.  I have no idea if it will be more energy efficient, but I’m hoping so.  I guess we’ll be able to tell from our gas bills, to some extent.  I also very much need to replace our washer and dryer.

  3. Last Sunday, we picked up some flowers for my aunt’s birthday and bought ourselves a pot of spring bulbs at the same time.  It’s wonderful to have that little blast of living colour in our kitchen.  I used to always have some fresh flowers around, but have gotten out of the habit since we’ve been back in Toronto.  I think I’ll pick it up again because they are really refreshing.

  4. I read an extremely compelling piece yesterday at a new-to-me blog called Exile Lifestyle.  The author talks about undertaking short (a few months) experiments with lifestyle to push him in new directions and encourage positive habits.  For example, (and I really encourage you to read his whole post), he did a period of no TV.  A period of no black clothing.  An experiment with no new paper products (except for some personal-hygiene related ones and his notebook.)  Z and I talked about this last night, about some experiments we might try individually and together.   More to come on this one, I’m sure.

  5. Does anyone else have an issue with the shortform for microphone?  “mic”  It just doesn’t work for me.  It should be “mike”.  

  6. I “made” a loaf of bread last night, that is, I loaded up the breadmaker and set the timer for fresh bread this morning.  I do this every two days or so.  I was having a glass of limoncello at the same time, having just returned from Cooking With Stella and dinner at the Bloor Street Diner.  This morning, it didn’t smell like it usually does, and I couldn’t see the bread through the window in the machine.  I had forgotten to put the paddles back into the pan and the bread didn’t mix,  It just baked itself into the pan in a big floury lump.  Now I’m just waiting for it to cool down enough so that I can dump it into the compost.  No sandwich for my sweetie’s lunch today.

  7. Spent a couple of hours in the Kensington Market area with Michael yesterday afternoon.  We had just picked up his tuba from Long and McQuade where it was in for repair, and were heading to Good Egg on Augusta to get my movie passes.  I had assumed Michael had been to Kensington as he spends quite a bit of time in Chinatown with his friends from Japanese class, and it’s just a little north of there.  But it was all new to him, a bit of a wonderland of cheesy discount shops, produce markets, funky shops and restos.  He found a Point Zero sweater at 50% off and I picked up a couple of scarves at Zimmerman’s Discount, where Mr. Zimmerman told him to come back often as there are lots of nice-looking girls in the area.   It was a gorgeous day, and MIchael is a 15yo kid who doesn’t mind hanging with his mom, so it was all good!  


Urban marketing


Shot 1:  Love this poster on Bloor West near Spadina.  

Shot 2:  On my to-do list.  The Bata Shoe Museum.  Bonus opportunity for star-sighting.  Reports Shinan Govani in today’s National Post:

That tapping into his inner Carrie Bradshaw the other day was none other than Mr. Omnivorous — John Malkovich! The stupendous star of the big screen was spotted over the weekend at Toronto’s famous foot locker, a.k.a. The Bata Shoe Museum, on Bloor.