Tag Archives: books

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.

Friday Seven – October 23

— 1 —

Our reno is done and we’re really happy with it. New hardwood floors throughout the second floor and in the living-dining room meant that every item in those areas had to be removed to either boxes in the basement or to a temporary storage pod (mainly the furniture.) Now we’ve got to sort all the boxes in the basement and reorganize (or get rid of) a lot of stuff. It’s actually been a great exercise, to see how the house looks with quite minimalist decor. I am taking things slowly and making careful decisions about what to keep and where. One of the good decisions we made was to have cabinetry built in around our (new) gas fireplace so all our decorative items can be placed together, behind glass, and reduce the clutter on surfaces, one of our big issues.

— 2 —

The timer switch for our exterior lights on the front door quit, leaving the lights on all the time. I picked up a new timer and attempted to install it myself. I’ve done minor electrical work before with no problem but this was part of a three switch plate and the installation quickly proved beyond me, even after a lot of googling and referring to my trusty Reader’s Digest Complete Do-it-yourself Manual. So I left the circuit breaker in the off position and we have no lights in the powder room or at my favorite reading position in the kitchen. I tried to hire an electrician the normal way (Homestars) but the earliest i could get an appointment was in two weeks. I called my contractor for a name and he said he’ll get it done for me tomorrow or Monday at the latest. He’s the best!

— 3 —

I’ve been on the hunt for a daybed or sofa bed for my study. I had it painted in a lovely pale yellow, a good colour for creativity, and when I checked out a couple of shops in the nearby Castlefield Design DIstrict (Elte Mkt, Shelter) everything suitable was only available in a cool grey. By chance, Ethel 20th Century Living posted this gorgeousness on their Facebook Page yesterday afternoon and I’m heading there to check it out in person this afternoon. It’s in a warm grey (Pebble), five years old an in apparently fabulous condition. And at a great price.

BluDot One Night Stand sleeper.
BluDot One Night Stand sleeper.

— 4 —

I am almost finished an absolutely terrific novel by Ruth Ozeki called A Tale For The Time Being. It is hard to describe how much this book resonates with me. I’ve been listening to the audio version, read by the author. Watch the trailer.

— 5 —

Kotodama: the Japanese belief that mystical powers dwell in words and names; that ritual words can influence our environment, body, mind, and soul. It’s everywhere in Ozeki’s novel and i want to think about it some more.

— 6 —

If you have a chance to see Remember, the new film by Atom Egoyan starring Christopher Plummer and Martin Landau, I highly recommend it. I saw a screening at TIFF this year and it was a highlight. While I don’t agree with this review (don’t leave early), I do agree that the rest of it is also very compelling.

— 7 —

Some Friday music humour.

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Readathon: last update!

For my followers, it was probably a bit strange to hear nothing for months and then get a bunch of posts in one day. But I successfully completed the readathon and here’s the last challenge (a little late, but whatevs.)

Which hour was most daunting for you?

Hour 22 (5 am). Around 5:30, I lay down “just for a minute” to read and woke up an hour later. I guess all the Diet Coke didn’t really do anything for me.

Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year?

Reading is such a subjective pleasure, that it’s difficult to recommend. But in general, a readathon is not the best place for anything too thought-provoking or requiring a slow read. I started out with the marvellous Cain by Jose Saramago which is only about 160 pages long, but it took me a few hours to get through it.

Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year?
What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon?

This was my first readathon so these two questions are really difficult to answer. I appreciated the support and the challenges, but I’d be happy to do it in a little bubble of my own as well.

How many books did you read?

I read four paper books and finished three. I also listened to part of an audiobook.

What were the names of the books you read?

Cain by Jose Saramago
How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are: Love, Style, and Bad Habits by Anne Berest et al
Iris and Her Friends: A Memoir of Memory and Desire by John Bayley
Battleborn by Claire Vaye Watkins (not finished)
A Tale For The Time Being by Ruth Ozeki (audiobook; listened to about a third of it)

Which book did you enjoy most?

In terms of pure joyfulness, the book about being Parisian was great. An excellent break after Cain. I also loved the Ozeki and will be listening to the rest over the next few days.

Which did you enjoy least?

The book about Iris Murdoch, written by her husband, was really about him. I was disappointed in many ways. Goodreads review to follow.

How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time?

I will definitely participate again, taking a little more care in choosing appropriate books. My spouse wasn’t able to participate this time, but says that he wants to do it with me next year.

Mid-way through the readathon…

…and i’m watching TV.

We’re eating dinner and I agreed to start watching The Fifth Estate with my husband, but I’m going to escape to the bedroom to read momentarily.

It’s hour 12 and we have a little survey for the current challenge:

Mid-Event Survey:

1. What are you reading right now?

How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are: Love, Style, and Bad Habits by Anne Berest et al. This was in our Airbnb apartment in Paris last month and I had to have it. My new lifestyle guide.

2. How many books have you read so far?

I’m on my third book, but I’ve only finished one (Cain by Jose Saramago.) I’m also listening to the audiobook of A Tale For The Time Being by Ruth Ozeki, but this is a fill-in book for when I”m cooking, walking the dog, or folding laundry and can’t read a regular book. It’s also a great read.

3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon?

Iris and Her Friends: A Memoir of Memory and Desire by John Bayley.

4. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those?

Mainly as above, and i’ve used an audiobook. Plus I felt for my dear husband and agreed to watch a movie with him for a few minutes.

5. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far?

How difficult it is to stay off social media. Monitor me at FacebookTwitter and Instagram, and tell me to get reading!

Back to my book!

Readathon: Book Scavenger Hunt

The Hour 9 Mini-challenge is interesting.

To enter the Book Scavenger Hunt, look at the item list below and find a word, phrase or thought IN THE BOOK YOU ARE CURRENTLY READING that fulfills that item.  For example, if the item were “something soft”, your answer could be a word – “kitten”; a phrase – “a satin ribbon the color of Jersey cream”; or a feeling “he leaned to her and kissed her cheek”.  Be creative!

I switched to an audio book a couple of hours ago so that i could shower, prep my lunch, and relax my eyes a little. I am very much enjoying A Tale For The Time Being by Ruth Ozeki. This is the book I’m using for my scavenger hunt. It’s set in Tokyo and on Cortes Island in British Columbia.

  1. Something hard – barnacle
  2. Something fast – gyre
  3. Something sweet – cataracts in great-grandmother referred to as flowers of emptiness in Japanese.
  4. Something high – crow in the bough of a maple
  5. Something funny – the word kotodama in Japanese that refers to the spirits that live inside a word that give it special power

My readathon top ten

Here’s another mini-challenge: create a top 10 list that has something to do with the readathon.

Top 10 Tips for Managing a 24-hour read:

  1. Get a good sleep the night before.
  2. Warn housemates that you will not be doing anything but reading.
  3. Find an audiobook for those times when you can’t read (walking the dog, loading the dishwasher, folding laundry that you didn’t get done the day before, prepping snacks.)
  4. Cozy pants.
  5. No bra.
  6. Diet coke to drink in place of the martinis you might otherwise consume.
  7. Leftovers.
  8. Make exceptions to dietary norms: frozen meatballs, cooked shrimp, premade guacamole, trail mix, diet coke (see above)
  9. Stay off social media. Except when you don’t.
  10. Hydrate, mainly with water.

Anything I’ve missed?

Readathon: Judging a book by its cover.

The second mini-challenge in the readathon is hosted by Unabridged Chick.

Dig through your shelves and share with us a book cover you’d like to escape into! Doesn’t matter if the subject, plot, or genre isn’t typically your thing; in this case, we’re totally judging the book by its cover!

I did a quick search and came up with this novel, that I haven’t read yet.

Doesn’t it look like a great house to read in? Cozy rooms, lots of light and nooks, carpets on hardwood? This is the kind of feel we’re working to create in real life.

People get ready….

… for the 24 hour readathon! It starts tomorrow at 9 a.m in Toronto, and varies by time zone. You can get your start time here.

deweys

This will be my first year participating and I’m very excited. Since our reno finished last month, we have boxes and boxes of stuff to sort: purge or place. This is always on my mind. An on-going item on my todo list and so the readathon will give me permission to forget about those things for a while, get cozy in front of the fireplace, and get through some of my to-read pile. It will also (I hope) help me kick the lingering cold that hampered our Thanksgiving plans last weekend and is lingering in my sinuses and ears.

In preparation, here’s my list for today.

  • pick up library books
  • tackle Mount Washmore
  • purchase food and snacks that will be easy to prepare and consume
  • tidy up certain key areas of the house that will give me a sense of calm once they’re in order (kitchen table, dining room table, bedroom)

I’ve signed up and will be posting my progress here (and in FB and twitter.) There are apparently prizes but I haven’t figured that part out yet.

Let me know in the comments if you’re planning to participate.

The reading (and travelling) life

Image courtesy The Graphics Fairy
Image courtesy The Graphics Fairy

I’ve got a five hour car trip ahead of me today and last night I fell asleep reading. Which means the light was on and I wasn’t wearing my CPAP. So I may be puling off for micro-naps today.

I’m heading in to the final stretch of my reading challenge in a Goodreads group, so I’ve got a very defined book list.

In printed text, I’ve got just a few pages left in The Woman Upstairs by Clarie Messud. I’ve owned this book for a while and thought it was a kind of thriller or something. But it’s not. And it’s terrific, resonating on a number of levels. More to come when I review it.

Next up in will be Projection: Encounters with My Runaway Mother by Priscilla Uppal, a non-fiction memoir that I’ve been hearing great things about. I’ve also got The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway (Keep Toronto Reading and my next book club selection) on my pile, as well as Washington Square by Henry James (for TIFF Books on Film).

Audio books are a terrific accompaniment to long drives and boring housework. I’m halfway through Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything by Joshua Foer, a fascinating look at memory and how memory champions train for competition. Next up will be The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle which will (hopefully) be good prep for my trip to 221b Con in Atlanta next month. I purchased that through Downpour which has great deals on the ACD canon at the moment.  I’ve also got The Black Swan: Second Edition: The Impact of the Highly Improbable by Nassim Nicholas Taleb on the OneClick Digital Recorded Books program through my public library, but the app seems to be glitchy so I’m not sure that I’ll be able to listen to it unless there’s an update.

~~

This week, I hope to get my mom’s condo ready to put on the market. There’s still a lot of stuff to clear out, and I need to find a cleaning crew to give it a once-over. I’ve got some friends and family to see in town, and I’d love to catch the new Wes Anderson film, The Grand Budapest Hotel.

Blogging may be light as I won’t have wifi chez moi, but who knows? I’ll try to at least keep busy on Instagram.

And finally, my indoor herb garden in rocking my world! Everything’s up except for the garlic chives. The cilantro suddenly appeared yesterday and I’m very pumped about that one as it’s the hardest to find in garden stores.

Seven Quick Takes Friday

Seven Quick Takes Friday

  1. No sooner was my sweetheart back from two weeks in Europe, he was off to Calgary for three days. In lieu of all the work I didn’t get done last week when I was sick (and alone), I managed to get my desk tidied, a huge accomplishment. I put everything on the floor and then sorted in five minute/small pile increments. It feels great to have a tidy place to work.
  2. I finished The Silent Wife by the late A.S.A. Harrison in a couple of days. Here’s the review I posted at Goodreads:
    The Silent WifeThe Silent Wifeby A.S.A. Harrison
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars
    This psychological thriller was hard to put down. The story of an unravelling relationship between a psychologist and a property developer, it has an almost serene texture to it, mirroring the somewhat repressed personality of the former (hence the “silent” of the title.) The tale progresses in alternating chapters titled “Him” and “Her”, but the main narrative is about the psychologist and how she deals with the infidelity of her common-law husband.  View all my reviews
  3. A little humour – The Married Kama Sutra (yes, it’s clean!)
  4. Frances Alda – Courtesy Project Gutenberg in Great Singers on the Art of Singing by James Francis Cooke.

    I dropped by the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Music on Wednesday for their semi(?)-annual book and CD sale. I usually look for tuba stuff, or choral or piano music, or old scores to use in craft projects. I picked up a couple of items, including a book called Men, Women, and Tenors. I laughed at the title, and then on further inspection it turned out to be the memoirs of Frances Alda, a soprano from the early years of the twentieth century. First published in 1937, my copy is a reprint from 1970 from Books for Libraries Press. I spent some time online trying to figure out how to remove mould/mildew from books and got some good ideas, including 15 seconds in the microwave and some careful application of alcohol to key spots.

    SURELY useful at some point in my future life.
    From The Trumpet and Trombone in Graphic Arts: 1500-1800

    The other item I grabbed was The Trumpet and Trombone in Graphic Arts: 1500-8000 which is chock full of terrific black and white engravings, surely useful for some writing/crafting project down the road. As I write this I hear the good angel in my head saying “THAT, my dear, is why you are drowning in books.”

  5. I spent a pile of laundry-folding time watching old episodes of Hoarders. Really. I kept asking myself “Why am I watching this?” and I couldn’t immediately come up with an answer. I guess part of it is seeing how mental and emotional issues are so entwined with the impulse to hoard. It’s kind of a self-soothing effort, like, say, playing the SIMS on one’s iPad, or whatever. At least with the latter, you don’t end up with 75 dead cats in your fridge/freezer.
  6. I spent Halloween with my niece and nephews. My brother was out of town and my sister-in-law needed to get to urgent care with one of them for the extraction of a foreign object from his nose. (When I mentioned to Alex that neither he nor Michael had ever experienced such a calamity, he commented that their noses were too big to retain anything!) So while child number two and mom were at the hospital, I supervised a small amount of candy consumption and got the other two in to bed. Here they are, with their nanny/personal chef (dressed as a Zombie Chef) on their way out for fun in the rain.

    Ninja, Zombie Chef, Skeleton, and Cinderella
  7. My sweetheart arrived back from his travels just before I did last night, and we’re looking forward to a relaxing weekend with my choir concert tonight and the TSO tomorrow evening. I see a cozy fire and some snuggling in my future.

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