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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Since sometime after Christmas, I have had significant knee pain, the worst when I would first stand after ANY length of sitting, a quick drive, five minutes in a chair. It was so bad that I would have to support myself until pain dissipated, and then limp. I started taking Tylenol Arthritis three times a day, but knew that I had to deal with the underlying issues.
After a web search, I made an appointment with Janet Walker, an osteopath. After assessing my alignment, she did some very gentle adjustments and recommended some basic stretches for my legs and feet. Over the two weeks before my second appointment, the pain subsided considerably, although I still had the discomfort upon standing. A second appointment last week involved more adjustments and encouragement to continue the stretches. The pain has lessened by about 80%.
Yesterday I had a massage that focussed on my hips, legs, and feet and am feeling quite well, apart from some mild stiffness. The osteopath doesn’t feel that she needs to see me again, although I may go back when I feel the need for another adjustment. I can’t recommend osteopathy highly enough for musculo-skeletal issues.
There’s a cool new (free) app for the iphone or ipad that identifies leaves from a photograph. Check it out here.
On Tuesday, Michael and I helped out Rob Teehan in a recording of his composition Lamb of God (Mass of the Redeemer) that he’s preparing for the final project of his Canadian Film Centre residency. The piece was scored for organ, orchestra, and choir, and we participated in the latter. It was fun and interesting and I look forward to seeing the final video. Rob “crowd-sourced” the musicians, and it was amazing to see how many volunteered their time for this project.
Alex finally found an apartment downtown, closer to work, and slept there for the first time last night. He’s repainted it and has been slowly purchasing furnishings. It’s just north of Kensington market, has a patio/balcony with a gorgeous view south to the CN Tower, and is about a 20 minute walk to work. (I meant to take a pic from the balcony last night but forgot my phone…coming soon!) I think he’ll be really happy there.
Yesterday, our new memory foam mattress set arrived. We’d been needing a new sleeping surface for some time and with Alex moving out, it was an opportune time to pass on our current one. We’re both feeling creaky (see 1 above) and are hoping that this firmer but more supportive mattress will help us out. I had my first sleep on it last night and moved around (and hence woke up) much less.
There’s a Farmer and Artisan Market opening up on Thursdays through October just down the street from us. There’s an unused bus turn that I walk by regularly and yesterday I saw this banner. This is great news for those of us living in the Upper Avenue area and I look forward to being a regular patron.
Unused bus turn
I’m rereading The Woman Upstairs by Claire Messud for book club this weekend. I very much enjoyed it the first time through and am catching even more the second time. I highly recommend it for women in middle-age, who may or not know how much anger we ALL hold inside. If you’re an underliner, you’ll be underlining. It’s an excellent story, well worth a few hours of your summer reading schedule.
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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.
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 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
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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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I finished a terrific book. My review (posted on Goodreads):
Bee Season by Myla Goldberg My rating: 5 of 5 stars An incredible feat of a first novel. Of a tenth novel for that matter.This is the story of a family and the secrets held by each of the members. Told over the arc of two seasons of spelling bees, the relationships between the various dyads are very finely drawn. Each family member is experiencing a kind of very personal suffering or angst, and the novel weaves their stories into a sort of coat of many colours.It is not a sad book per se, but we meet these characters as they struggle to be true to themselves with sometimes unexpected results.Highly recommended. View all my reviews
Many thanks to the Canadian Opera Company for sending out their usual pre-opera reminder with links to reading resources etc. Otherwise, I might not have realized that my second time round with Peter Grimes on Saturday starts at 4:30 pm and not 7:30. I saw it opening night when Ben Heppner was indisposed. This time, fingers crossed, he will be on stage. Seeing it with a friend who likes Heppner, but not so much Benjamin Britten. We’ll have a good discussion at dinner afterwards, regardless.
It’s not all operas and orchestras around here. Sometimes what a gal needs is a few hours of concentrated lounging in front of the television. This week, as I struggled to kick this cold, I caught up on a few of my fave series and suddenly wondered “What is it that makes bad boys so attractive to women?” I mean, women who are otherwise not interested in the immoral or illicit. Even bad boys who (to me) are not that physically attractive? (Nucky Thompson in Boardwalk Empire, played by Steve Buscemi) Or those that are? (Fitz in Call Me Fitz, played by Jason Priestly.) Okay, maybe the latter is a bit easier to understand, but he’s really a nasty piece of work on the show.
What is the matter with all these people staring (and commenting) in wonderment at Prince George in a christening gown (or “dress” as they are wont to call it?) Have they no clue? Have they never seen old photos or footage of a traditional christening? In fact, babies of both genders have been clothed in gowns for centuries. When they were newborns in the 1990s, my boys wore long gown-like sleepers that my mother had set aside from when my sibs and I were babies. They were very practical, cozy, and cute.
This is why your band needs to have a tubist, not a bass player (with apologies to Michael’s flat-mate, a bass player.)
My (church) choir is putting on a concert to raise funds for the restoration of the organ. It’s Friday November 1st at 8 pm at Blessed Sacrament Parish (Yonge and Lawrence W, Toronto) and we’ll be joined by the marvellous Victoria Scholars and some special guest instrumentalists. More details to follow early next week after I actually make it to a rehearsal (*sniffle). Free to attend. Donations gratefully accepted.
A big happy birthday to my sister Frances who turns 15 months younger than me today! Here we are with our parents before the baby brother arrived.
Well, my darling readers, it’s been an incredibly busy summer with house guests, travel, TIFF, and a fancy-schmancy wedding. Fall is my favourite season and it’s time to get back into my routines. My Istanbul blogging stopped as TIFF began, and I hope to get a couple more posts up about that trip (that seems so long ago at this point.) I have been out of email and phone touch with many of you, but that will change. Promise.
I’ve started two programs at my local community centre. On Monday afternoons I’m taking a Feldenkrais class. It promises to help me work out some of the body kinks I’ve been feeling as I age. I can remember seeing posters about it back when I lived in Ottawa and have wanted to try it for years. The first session was excellent and I’m looking forward to more. I also went to my first yoga class (ever) yesterday. The instructor has been teaching for 40 years and it’s the Sivananda style of hatha yoga (quite classical, if I understand correctly.) While most of the class are experienced (and many have been coming to the same teacher for years), the newbies like me are being brought on board slowly. I’m looking forward to learning to breathe more intentionally and to strengthen my core. The centre is walking/biking distance from home so that’s a bonus.
I’m working my way through the Man Booker-winning Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel for book club next weekend. It’s a big book, chosen by the group to read over the summer when we only had one meeting. I’m about two-thirds of the way through. While I’m planning to keep my comments (and review) to myself until after we meet, let’s just say that if there was a trivia game based on Thomas Cromwell, I’d stand a good chance of winning.
I have so many small projects around the house to get to. This week, I’ve been mainly focussed on getting through stacks of laundry and ironing. I need to reorganize my books now that they’ve been (randomly) moved to our new study (in our old dining room) and get my new crafting area set up in a recently vacated bedroom. I have a couple of sewing projects ready to go once I get a table. I also need to finish my travel diary/scrapbook from Istanbul. We’re looking for a round table for the study, and we want to replace our built-in oven that buzzes randomly (and continuously) due to a wonky clock and very poor temperature control. It’s 20+ years old so I don’t feel bad about not repairing it.
How’s Michael doing at McGill, you ask? I have no idea. I haven’t spoken to him at any length since he started classes so I need to have a good chat with him this weekend. I’m going with the no-news-is-good-news scenario. I know that he had a couple of lessons with his teacher in August but am anxious to hear what ensembles he’s in and how the classes are going.
Alex is settling into life in our basement, working on his Master of Management Analytics, and tutoring math part-time. Yesterday, he had road-trip to London Ontario to tour a brewery as part of his program (for his supply-chain management course, or so he says.) He saw some vintage delivery vehicles there.
This weekend Zouheir and I will be attending a meeting of the Bootmakers of Toronto (Sherlock Holmes Society of Canada) as a guest of a member. Author Terry Fallis is speaking and I hope to get one of his books signed (if I can find it in my currently non-alphabetised home library.) I loved his first two novels (The High Road and The Best Laid Plans, now getting made into a TV Miniseries), and I read Up and Down in early summer. The Sherlock Holmes connection in the latter brings him to the Bootmaker’s meeting. Oh, and Sunday is Word on the Street so I’ll be checking out this years offerings down at Queen’s Park.
And that’s all folks! Hope to be more regular with the posts going forward.
Thanks to the good folks at e-transcriptum, I got my postcard translated, at no charge!
As I posted a couple of days ago, I have a card with a photograph on one side and Russian handwriting on the other. While googling around for translation services, I found a link to e-transciptum on Cyndi’s List, a popular genealogy portal. I filled out a form and attached scans of the card mid-afternoon. A couple of hours later, I had a response.
Here’s the text again:
A translator named Evgeniya Vasilenko sent me the following reply:
The translation is: For me dear brother Konstantin Ilshtein (Elshtien) for a good memory. A. Ilshtein (Elshtein) Leningrad, 20th of June, 1926
I also enquired about the embossed stamp in the corner.
Stamp: The word in the center is Leningrad, the date below is 1925, October, 18 (or 28) First line is not clear, starts with A ends with TER. It’s name of photo studio I guess. If you need exact name I can ask some specialists.
I am absolutely thrilled to get these details. The image in the photo is my great great uncle Abraham, the brother of my great-grandfather Konstantine Elstein.
I have misplaced my Kobo ereader and it’s driving me crazy. I have looked everywhere and the little devil is eluding me. I’m halfway through Tender is the Night and I want to finish it up this weekend. Because it’s a download from the library, I can’t read it on the Kobo app on my iPad. The last time I recall reading on it , I was flaked out on the sofa in the kitchen, but I’ve searched all my reading nooks to no avail.
I’ve made some progress on my travel journal. It was great to get the sewing machine out again, and I’ve completed the cover and a bunch of pages. I need to collect some more paper scraps, ephemera, etc to finish it up, but I’m quite happy with the work so far.
The heat. I’m really a shade plant, and I’m finding spending any amount of time outside a strain these days. My step count has gone way down and I’m starting to use antiperspirant on places that I don’t usually need it. (Curvaceous women know what I’m talking about.) We keep getting calls for storms but it’s been a dry week so far. I transplanted some herbs this morning, but the 15 minutes outside completely did me in.
My wall o’ bookcases is built and filled, but they were filled randomly. So a weekend project will be to re-organize my books. I like to have fiction in alphabetical order by author and non-fiction by topic. I’m also using them for genealogy supplies and photo boxes, so there will be a couple of shelves for that as well.
I had a couple of nice meals out with friends this week. On Wednesday evening, four altos from choir got together at Steak Frites on Yonge Street to catch up. We only sing from September to June so it was great to see these women again and get all the news. Yesterday, I met an old friend, Karen, from my early days in Ottawa who lives in Pickering. She’s a kindergarten teacher and has a pretty busy schedule during the academic year, so it’s great to get together in person a couple of times over the summer. We had a lovely meal at The Copper Chimney on Avenue Road as she was on her way to Waterloo to see her daughter.
Michael played his first of four gigs with the Weston Silver Band this summer, where he’s been subbing on Eb Bass (tuba). They’re playing three music festivals and a fundraiser (for themselves). Last Sunday they were at Music at Fieldcote in Ancaster. Zouheir and I drove Michael and his euphonium-playing colleague Kohei Izuma out there for 5 pm, we slipped away for dinner at the Ancaster Mill, and then joined them at the concert that started at 7 pm.
I finally downloaded (and deleted) all 1500 photos on my iphone. I’ve been flipping through them and came across this one, taken on Yonge Street between St. Clair and Dupont.
We were one of the lucky ones in Toronto this week: no water damage and no power outages. Didn’t even get affected by what I presume were rolling blackouts that hit my hair salon (and their tankless water heater) just as I arrived for my appointment. Luckily it was short and I didn’t need to have a cold-water shampoo. That being said, Zouheir had to walk down twenty floors to leave his building on Monday night as they had no power, and his commutes home were miserably long for a couple of days. But the humidity has broken and the city is drying out.
My “nephew” Feras arrived from the LA last Saturday. I put nephew in quotation marks as he’s actually Zouheir’s first-cousin-once removed, but he calles us Amo and Tante as is the custom in the middle east (calling older family members uncle and aunt.) He’s originally from Syria, just finished high school there, and needs to learn English. Life in LA is pretty much constrained to arabic in his social circle so a summer in Toronto with a few weeks at a language school will be just the ticket to get him ready for college. Needless to say, the rain storm was somewhat alarming for him, but we assured him that this was atypical and he shouldn’t expect that kind of rain again during his stay. He’s heading up to the cottage with Alex and a passel of Alex’s friends this weekend, which should make for a grand introduction to the way young people in Canada spend their free time when there’s no internet. (I believe it may involve beer, barbecuing, and a hookah. And Alex just mentioned something about teaching Feras beer pong.)
I am very excited about our upcoming trip to Istanbul in August. All signs are go for the voyage, and I’ve decided to craft a funky travel journal like this. I’ve picked up some fabric and have been collecting papers to incorporate into it. As soon as I finish up some framing projects, I’ll get started. (Pro-tip: scour thrift stores for ugly art in nice frames, make/buy new mats if necessary, and then frame the cheap but attractive art you buy when travelling. Have saved mucho dinero over buying new/pro framing.)
Went to my first Fringe Festival performance yesterday, and it was fab. It was down at Theatre Passe Muraille Backstage, a one-man show called The Nature of a Bullet. Actor Nick Dipchand has been mentored by a friend of mine who encouraged me to see the show and she joined me there. Nick is a marvel, taking on a number of characters in his 50 minute performance. I’d met him a couple of times before and we had a little chat afterwards. If you’re in Toronto and don’t mind mature language, check it out.
Then: Recollections of a Well-Known Name Dropper by Dunne, a gorgeous memoir containing many black and while photographs, mostly by the author. I also found a book of fashion photography and closeups of fabric designs from the 60s called Flower Power. It also came with a CD containing the designs. The clerk, thinking it was a magazine, charged me 99 cents. The fabric design pages will make great wrapping/book-making paper.
It was in one of Dunne’s books that I first heard the term “walker” to designate younger men hired to accompany aging socialites around town, sort of a good-looking personal assistant/escort. In yesterday’s National Post column by Shinan Govani, he prints a help-wanted ad, purportedly placed by one Alison Eastwood (who looks too young to need one, but who am I to judge?). Check it out here.
From my Facebook feed today. This dog has been trained to detect American foulbrood, some kind of disease that wipes out bees. I just love working dogs, and if you do too, go and read the whole piece here.
Spent a lovely weekend at the cottage with my extended family. While my boys didn’t come up with us, there being no internet and all, I had fun hanging with my sibs and their kids, and my mom. Zouheir got out in the Laser and polished up his sailing skills, and he, my brother-in-law and the kids headed out in the motor boat to watch the fireworks in Portland from the water.
The VB6 eating plan is going pretty well. I have my new routine for breakfast and am eating more veggies in general. And have I lost any weight, you ask? Not a pound.
The son of one of Zouheir’s cousins is coming to stay with us for a few weeks to improve his English. He’s 19 and hIs family moved to LA from Syria but he is having trouble getting out of his Arabic environs so that he can master the language and start university. He’ll be attending ILAC here in Toronto and we’ll show him the sights.
Got my TIFF ticket packages a couple of nights ago. I got 20 daytime tickets and 10 any-time. I’ll probably get a few daytime pairs so that I can bring a friend, or Alex and/or his girlfriend. As usual, am very pumped about the festival, even if one of our friends had the audacity to plan his wedding for the second Saturday!
My father Franklin went to Queen’s for medical school. I found this cutting from the Queen’s Journal amongst some photographs. His father’s name was David and his parents separated when he was quite young. This is a side of my father that I had never seen before.
If you’re looking for a quiet, interesting little film in Toronto (unlike most of those in the theatres these days), consider seeing Museum Hours which is now screening at the TIFF Bell Lightbox. It stars Mary Margaret O’Hara and amateur actor Bobby Sommer. Here’s the trailer.
Thanks for reading. I love comments so please feel free to leave one below.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.