Tag Archives: Christmas

Postcard from the past

I’m in Ottawa this week helping my mom get settled in her new apartment and helping her sort through the stuff in her condo. One of the objectives that I have for myself this week is to go through a lot of the old photos and have her help me annotate them.

Central Park and Fifth Avenue Hotels, New York City
Central Park and Fifth Avenue Hotels, New York City

A couple of weeks ago when we were preparing for her move, I filled three shoeboxes with photos and cards that had been in her desk so that it could be moved. I opened up one of them this evening and right at the top was this postcard dated July 24, 1960, just two weeks after I was born. It was to my mother from her life-long friend Ruth. I had dinner with both of them earlier today. The card reads:

Dear Emily,
I hear Janet is just a pet. Mother was so enthused about meeting her, she must be a darling. I can hardly wait to see her. So nice that your Mother is with you for a bit. Any word of a housekeeper for the fall?
Went to see “The Best Man” yesterday – good play.
Love to all

Here is a photo from Christmas of 1963. By then, my sister Frances was born, and the three of us are at the left. Ruth, her husband Peter, and their eldest Jane are at the front. Ruth’s parents, known as Mr and Mrs WP are standing at the left. Family friends Don and Lucille are standing at the right. The picture is taken in our living room, my father (likely) behind the camera.

Christmas 1963.
Christmas 1963.

We had Christmas with this group through most of my childhood. My mother must have been very pregnant in this picture as my brother was born in late January, 1964. Ruth and Peter had another daughter, and Don and Lucille had a daughter and a son. Christmas dinners were at different homes each year, and we enjoyed spending these evenings eating a traditional meal and then playing games.

(The play Ruth mentioned in her postcard, “The Best Man” was a Tony-winning production written by Gore Vidal.)

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Aren’t things supposed to be quieting down now?

The last few days continue to keep me up and active, with nary a moment to lounge on the sofa and work on my book pile.

Alex’s laptop screen got cracked due to some dorm-room hijinks and, although I thought I had bought the “Complete Care Warranty” from Dell, a closer look at my invoice suggests otherwise.  So now he needs to come up with $499 (plus tax) to replace the screen.  On a laptop that cost less than twice that.  Four months ago.  So I spent time with Dell on the phone trying to figure out exactly what warranty I DID buy, and that (of course) the damage wasn’t covered.

My mother-in-law can’t stop cooking.  Our freezer is full.  The fridge is full.  The beer fridge no longer has room for beer.  She’s here for three more days and she’s figuring out how to get “everything done” before she leaves.  I keep buying 500 g of ground beef, 500g of stewing beef, onions, and lemons, and it all keeps getting turned into ziploc-packed goodness that needs to be crammed into our freezer.  I’m feeling bloated from all the bulgur my poor intestines are being subjected to.  I’ve been to Arz more in the past three weeks than in the past year.

Michael is still keeping night owl hours and he goes back to school tomorrow.  Sigh.

We met Alex’s girlfriend yesterday when she dropped over for tea before they headed downtown for lunch.   Lovely, polite, funny.  She is studying architecture at University of Waterloo….they met last summer when they worked at the same day camp for the summer.

Z and I are going to Rome for Easter this spring.  It will be my first time there and I’m completely excited about it.  I just worked my way through the Air Canada Vacations website, booking everything, to end up with some system error when I tried to actually pay for the tickets.  Dang.  The office closed until tomorrow, so I can’t do anything about it now.  It’s just frustrating to sit at the computer and do all the work, checking all the information three times, etc. and then getting kicked out.

Choir was quick and easy today; we only met 45 minutes before mass to go over music.  Our choir-only stuff was a quick read and sounded lovely.  For the offertory, we sang We Three Kings unaccompanied (the SATB version from here).  At communion, we did a lovely arrangement of In the Bleak Midwinter.  It’s such a beautiful hymn….I knew that the text was by Christina Rosetti, but I’d never noticed that the music was by Gustav Holst.

This afternoon, I finally got my blog template updated with a simple new look for the new year.  I’m not done with it yet, but it’s fine for now.  My resolutions are still feeling right and I am definitely enjoying the extra sleep.  The Christmas tree will come down this week, and then the living room can return to it’s natural state, with my desk replacing the tree.  I received a number of books for Christmas, so I want to give some books away, and tidy up my bookshelves while I’m at it.  I also have two books to review for Thomas Nelson…one is sort of “chick-lit” and the other is a book of devotions.  I hope to have these both done in a week.

Until tomorrow!

Seven Quick Takes Friday


  1. My sister and her family are coming from Ottawa to meet our new niece.  They’ll arrive this after noon and stay until Monday.  While they’re here, we’ll have a party for new niece’s older brother who turns four in a couple of weeks.  So today I’m cleaning and shopping and making beds!

  2. It’s been cool these past couple of weeks, just the way I like it.  Hovering above freezing during the day, but lots of sun.  It’s great weather for my stage of life and it makes me feel energized.  My mom was a little concerned about me just wearing a light leather jacket out every day, but understood about the internal heat generation that’s been going on.

  3. I’m trying out some contact lenses; must be that mid-life crisis thing again.  I went for a regular eye exam yesterday and came out sporting contacts and a new pair of over-the-counter reading glasses (bright red!).  I wore them for about four hours yesterday and will try for five today.  Dr. Tang, my wonderful optometrist, gave me two mono-vision lenses, left eye optimized for distance and right eye optimized for reading.  The reading is not great yet, but maybe my brain has to be trained for that.

  4. Just got tickets for Fiddler on the Roof, another Mirvish production opening shortly in Toronto.  I’m taking my mother there for Christmas and am really looking forward to it.  She’ll be in town for the holidays and it will be a fun outing that I know she will enjoy.

  5. I can’t say enough about this Gary Taubes book I’m reading: Good Calories, Bad Calories: Fats, Carbs, and the Controversial Science of Diet and Health

    . I got it from the library after watching him give a lecture (in a video) and now I’ve added it to my Christmas wish list

    .  I’ll post at length about it in the future, but it’s refuting a lot of conventional wisdom about diet, is compelling and thoughtful, not sensational at all.  I will definitely be making some significant dietary changes, mainly cutting out refined carbohydrates.  I highly recommend this as required reading for anyone concerned about their health and the nutritional foundations.

  6. I have most of my out-of-town shopping done and am caught up on all the birthday shopping from the past few months.  I know what I’m getting for everyone remaining, and that’s the biggest hurdle.  My mother-in-law is arriving for a month on Monday and I want to be able to have a peaceful and relaxing time while she’s here, and enjoy the Advent season.

  7. This Sunday after the main mass, the chapter of the Catholic Women’s League that has been newly re-established in our parish will be installed and blessed.  I’m on the executive, and it’s great to see our efforts coming to fruition in this formal acknowledgement of our chapter status.  We’re having a potluck lunch afterwards for members and their families, and I have signed up to bring bottled water, 6 dozen rolls, and butter.  The busy woman’s offering!

More Seven Quick Takes over at Conversion Diary today!

Tuba conflict


What are the odds?

Michael and I were to head down to Nathan Philips Square to participate in the Holiday Tuba Festival at noon today. He’d been practicing some of the carols over the past few days and we were getting ready to decorate his instrument with garlands.

Yesterday, he brought home a letter from his music teacher saying that Chris Lee, Principal Tubist at the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra would be at the school today to work with the tubists:  from 10 to Noon.

Michael decided to skip the festival to spend some time with Mr. Lee.

(Image courtesy of The Fluter Tutor!)

Great gift idea from the kitchen!

These are so cute!  So perfect for single people in your life!

A single serving pie-in-a-jar.


The recipe uses those squat half-pint jars.  You line them with dough, fill ’em, top them with whatever topping you life (dough, crumbs) and freeze.

A tiny perfect gift.  Really.  The link above also has some cute gift tags to add to the jar.

Update on the injured one…

Further to this incident:  Z has somewhat more movement in his arm, so that’s good news.  He worked at home yesterday and managed to slowly get his shoulder moving a little.  He has recovered some range of motion, but still needs some assistance with things like socks.   He went in to the office for a while today as he has a face-to-face meeting and has some things to bring home before the holidays.  

He has an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon tomorrow first thing in the morning, so we’ll get further insight into what happened, and what kind of treatment he needs.  My guess is that it will likely be physiotherapy of some sort.  

The “good thing” is that he has booked off until January 5 so that will give him time to rest and recover.  We’ll have a nice relaxing holiday.

Messiah Prep

Not for the big event….for Tafelmusik’s annual sing-along Messiah on December 21.  

This is supposed to be a terrific afternoon and sells out every year.  I’ve been chatting it up with the few singers I know locally…in particular altos since the event has the audience sitting by voice part. 

I already own a copy of the score, and I downloaded a copy of Handel’s Messiah into iTunes so that I can run through it a few times.  I’ve been over the choruses once and there’s some pretty intense music to sing.

But it certainly gets one into the Advent/Chrismas/Easter mood.

Williams Sonoma fest!

My mother gave me a very generous gift card for Williams Sonoma for Christmas and so today, Z and I headed to the mall to pick out some loot. My original intent was to replace all of our mismatched and stained kitchen towels and cloths. We had some extra left over, and this is what I got:

My new breadmaker (from my brother and his wife) is fabulous! I had tried without success to make whole wheat bread in my old breadmaker but it always turned out heavy and dry. The recipe that came with the new breadmaker involves vital wheat gluten as well as yeast, and boy did my first loaf rise! I will need to reduce the amount of yeast as it hit the window on the top of the machine.

With my new french bread pan, we’ll prepare the dough in the machine and let it do its final rise on the pan before baking.