Tag Archives: Charlotte Gray

Friday Seven: the culture edition

Seven eh

  1. Just finished listening to the podcast version of Terry Fallis’ fourth novel, No Relation. It’s very funny, in Fallis’ bordering-on-cheesy style, and a good story. A narrative driven novel, it’s an easy read, and involves a lots of Hemingway lore and a shout-out to the Sherlock Holmes society in Toronto, The Bootmakers. Highly recommended.
  2. TIFF starts next week and I’m planning to see 16 films over the 10 day festival. I may add in a couple more that were on my list and that have received good reviews. I’m seeing five with Zouheir (he’s only available on the weekends) and one with a friend. Here’s my list. I don’t pay extra for premium screenings (first screening of high buzz films) as I don’t particularly care about the red carpet (although I always stay when there is a Q&A after screenings, when I have time before the next film.) I see the majority of the films alone which is fine by me. I always have a book to keep me occupied in line, and I don’t need to look for seats together. The one star I’d love to see is Eddie Redmayne who’s plays the role of Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything. I first saw him in My Week with Marilyn and from everything i’ve read, he’s smart (Eton/Cambridge) as well as a gorgeous, freckly red-head. I also wouldn’t turn my head away from Adam Driver, Ethan Hawke, or Robert Downey Jr.
  3. My book club met last Sunday to discuss The Massey Murder: A Maid, Her Master and the Trial that Shocked a Country by Charlotte Gray. An absolutely fascinating study of World War I Toronto, we rated it an average of 7/10. Gray details the social structures (and strictures) of life at that time, particularly for women. Unfortunately, we have nothing in the historical record in the voice of Carrie Davies (the “maid”) so she remains a bit of a mystery. We were fascinated by the burgeoning maternal feminism of the time, the Toronto Local Council of Women, and the Toronto Women’s Court. In chatting with my aunts about this time (they were born in the following decade), they reminisced about Sunday observance in the city, where swings and slides in parks were locked up and their Scots Presbyterian father forbade running, knitting, playing with toys (with the exception of some dolls their grandmother had give them), and swimming on the Sabbath.
    IMG_0008
  4. Our 31st wedding anniversary was this week. It passed quietly as Z is very busy at work these days, and our celebration will be our trip to France in late September. We’re spending a week in Paris and have rented an apartment, and then we’ll spend a week further south. We need to book a rental car and start planning our little road trip.
  5. Michael texted me from Montreal yesterday. His flat-mate is back from China and they were cooking dinner together (she’s a pastry chef!) He wanted my guacamole recipe which made me feel warm all over (he still NEEDS me….). MIchael had a wonderful if exhausting time at the Orford Orchestra Workshop this summer. We headed to Orford to pick him up a couple of weeks ago and heard their final concert, which was marvellous. Really, the best orchestra which which I’ve heard him play. They performed Smetana’s La Moldau, Stravinski’s Firebird Suite, and Brahms Symphony No 4, under the baton of Jean-François Rivest. They started the program with a Bach Chorale, sung by the musicians in their seats, something that they did every morning to warm up and “form a community”. It gave me the chills.
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    Orford Orchestra brass section.
  6. Alex is fostering a kitten! He’s named him Pascal (after the mathematician) and I suspect he’s on the road to being a “failed foster” i.e. he’s gonna adopt him. The Toronto Cat Rescue hooked him up with this cutie.
    Pascal
    Pascal
  7. I’m off to Canadian Tire for and oil change, new headlamp that just burned out, and new tires. Exciting, eh? I really like my local CT shop. They don’t talk down to me, don’t try to upsell, and are just nice guys. Plus, there’s a mall attached to it with a Fortinos so I can get groceries while I wait. 

That’s it for the week! I hope to be back on here more regularly, but no promises, LOL.

Friday Seven

  1. Heading to a Syrian wedding today: the sacrament is this afternoon in Woodbridge and the party tonight in Etobicoke at the Edessa Banquet Hall. I won’t know many people there, but my partner-in-crime is getting less patient with loud music so it likely won’t be a late night.
  2. For a complete change of pace, we’re heading up to Wyebridge (near Midland) tomorrow morning for a Goddard family reunion. I think it’a actually referred to as the “3G” annual event, for Goddard, Gear, and Graham families. I’m looking forward to meeting some new-to-me cousins and fleshing out my family tree. Our hosts are Stephen and Frieda Goddard. Stephen is my mother’s first cousin, the son of her uncle Percy Goddard.
    Doug Townsend, Stephen and Frieda Goddard
    Doug Townsend, Stephen and Frieda Goddard

    I blogged about another branch of my Goddards here. Two brothers emigrated to the Barrie, Ontario area (John in 1970 and William in 1871). I descend from William and the branch at the link descend from John.

  3. For my book challenge this quarter (my booklist here – I won’t read them all, but it’s a goal), I’m reading a memoir by Vladimir Nabokov called Speak, Memory: An Autobiography Revisited. It’s achingly beautifully written, and I’m doing a slow, close read to enjoy it. Here’s a snippet, a memory of a young Nabokov sitting on the veranda while his nanny reads french novels to him.

    From "Speak, Memory" by Vladimir Nabokov.
    From “Speak, Memory” by Vladimir Nabokov.
  4. For my Toronto readers: I just discovered an interesting website called Tabs Toronto. It sends automated alerts any time key words that you select are identified in city government records. You can do a search and then decide whether you’d like an email alert based on it. I’ve registered for my street name, neighbourhood name, and local BIAs. It’s a great initiative intended to improve civic participation.
    TABS
  5. Every since we moved in to our house seven years ago, we’ve known that we had issues with poor air circulation (basement too cold, second floor too hot). We finally got around to having an HVAC professional in to look at our system and he gave us some good advice about improving our duct work, and noted that our AC had been incorrectly installed, effectively blocking the path of air in to the ducts. (Or something.) Our furnace maintenance people had told us that our furnace was on its last legs, and so we took the plunge and replaced both furnace and AC. What a difference. We can actually feel cool air coming out of the ducts in our upper floor. He also recommended that we put a shade or covering of some kind on the large skylight in our stairwell so that’s the next job.
  6. My last post on my Berkman ancestors got a lot of hits, and I’m hoping to get in contact with some cousins. In the meantime, I finally scanned this business card of my grandfather David’s fur company. He moved back to Ontario in the early 30s and had some retail businesses. More about that soon.

    D Berkman Fur Company
    D Berkman Fur Company
  7. My book club had an excellent discussion of Donna Tartt‘s The Goldfinch last Sunday. It got pretty high ratings for the group (average 8/10), a surprising amount of sympathy for Boris, and totally expected love for Hobie. We also sniffed at the critics who looked down their noses at the accessible writing.  We met on the patio at the lovely Grenadier Restaurant in High Park (well, the food is fine but the venue is lovely) and will meet there again next month when we move to non-fiction with The Massey Murder: The Maid, Her Master, and the Trial That Shocked a Country by Charlotte Gray.

We’ve got a long weekend here in Ontario so Sunday and Monday are going to be read-and-relax days. On Tuesday, I’m heading to Ottawa to see my mother and some friends, and then back on Friday.

Leave me some love in the comments!