Tag Archives: journal

A cure for the common cold? Yes, please…

I think I’m starting to crawl out from under this heavy blanket of my cold.  My sinuses are feeling much better today and I don’t have a headache, although that may be due to the migraine meds I took last night before bed.  I missed the Evelyn Glennie concert because I was just too sick to get myself there and it seems like it was a wonder.  Sigh.


This morning, a correspondent told me about a cure that she learned of in Cuba:  a handful of mint leaves, steeped in boiling water, with some honey.  I don’t have any fresh mint, but she suggested dried would also work so I’ve consumed a great mug of that and am hoping for the best. I’m off the cold meds, but may need some pain relief if the headache returns.  

Michael’s last Kiwanis event with the school orchestra was this morning, so I had to get dressed and out to transport him, his tuba, and a couple of friends to the venue.  I’m on call to pick him up sometime around noon when it’s over and then I’ll run some errands.  I’m quite behind in my to-do list but I’m simply knackered with this this cold.  I haven’t been this ill for a long time, possibly due to the mega-doses of Vitamin C that I take for something completely different (or has that been disproven?).  Z brought home fixings for dinner last night and assembled everything which was sweet.  Leftovers are available for lunch so I can take it easy. 

I”ll make a chicken pot pie with cornbread crust for dinner (a one-pot meal, and quite easy).  I’ve got nothing else on until tomorrow night when the man-child has a gig with the Jazz.fm big band at Hart House (Jazz @ Oscar’s, 9-11:30 pm). 

Feeling like another cup of tea…

Let’s just say it’s been a heckuva week

I’m dog-tired.

This week has been a bit of a blur and I haven’t felt up to blogging.  Sunday, Michael had back-to-back rehearsals so while he was at his first one, I helped my brother out at his place as he moves into the rest of his four-plex en route to converting it into a single-family-home.  I drove Michael out to his second rehearsal (way out west at Humber College) and then returned home.  We went out to Seoul House for dinner after picking him up, where I forgot my cellphone and had to drive back to get it.

Monday night was his first ever gig with the Jazz.fm Youth Big Band. I took him out to the subway around 3 and then Z and I headed down to the Old MIll on the subway around 5:30. The band was backing Bucky Pizzarelli and I was bowled over by how great they sounded.  I have a lot of wonderful memories from my youth playing in a big band, and I just knew how great the kids were all feeling.  The house was packed, sold out, and it was a great, if late night.  On the way home on the subway, we realised that there had been a mixup with Michael’s trombone lesson and he had been expected that evening. He had also just broken up with his girlfriend. I had too much wine along with my terrific dinner which resulted in a migraine the next day.

Tuesday was a relatively normal day (apart from the headache), although Z didn’t make it home for dinner due to work.  Michael and I had a “snack supper” which usually means grilled sandwiches or cheese and crackers or popcorn or cereal.   I wasn’t up to preparing anything else and Michael is good-natured about all this.

On Wednesday, I had a Catholic Women’s League meeting for which I was asked to prepare a reflection just an hour before-hand.  I probably should have realised that I was on the hook for that, but didn’t, so I pulled something Advent-y together while making dinner.  We had a very good speaker from Aid to Women at the meeting, although the turnout was quite small.

Last night I had tickets to an advance screening of The Next Three Days courtesy of The National Post and there was a surprise Q&A with director and screenwriter Paul Haggis afterwards. We both very much enjoyed the movie but didn’t get home until well after 10, which is late (for me).  

Today, Z had a big presentation at 11 am and pretty much everything went wrong.  We were supposed to meet with our financial planner at 8:30 this morning, but after receiving input from his people for the presentation in the middle of the night, Z realised that he had to cancel.  He was on the phone until 10:30 and asked me to drive him downtown for his meeting.  At 10:45, stuck in the hell that is Avenue Road these days, we turned around and he took the call from home, and then raced off downtown after the call to something else that couldn’t be done remotely.  On top of all this, he had a call early this morning to learn that his aunt had passed away.  She was his mother’s sister and was in the advanced stages of Parkinson’s disease.  It was in some ways shocking when his mother passed this summer before his aunt.

Oh, and it’s his birthday today.  

On the bright side, Alex turned 19 today (he shares his birthday with his father), which is “legal” in Ontario.  I queried as to whether he hit a bar after midnight and received an affirmative reply.  He sounds good and has been calling regularly, which makes me very happy. 

It feels like Monday….what am I reading?

This feels like a relatively calm week.  My mom is in town until Sunday and my brother-in-law Philippe is visiting from France for a couple of days (he’s mainly staying in Montreal with his son).  Zouheir will take him to Kitchener-Waterloo for Oktoberfest on the weekend.

I have a brief (I hope) meeting at the church tomorrow night, and then Mom and I are going to see A Disappearing Number, a play broadcast in HD from the UK, on Thursday evening.  She’s attending a meeting at Regis College on Friday and Saturday that is being hosted by the Lupina Centre for Spirituality, Healthcare, and Ethics, and she heads home on Sunday.

I need to get the housework under control, and am looking to Home Comforts: The Art and Science of Keeping House by Cheryl Mendelson to help me get some routines set up.  

Otherwise, I’ve got the following reading on the go:

  • The Help by Kathryn Stockett:  I’ve said it before, and you’re probably bored by now, but this is a terrific book.  I’m listening to the audiobook version and it’s stunning.  It tells the story of the relationship between African-American maids and the families in which they work.  Set in the early ’60s in Mississippi, there is something for everyone here. It looks at not just the maid-family issues, but issues within each of the communities. 
  • I just finished Scarpetta by Patricia Cornwell.  As I mentioned previously, I’m not enjoying this as much as her earlier books.  It seems kind of forced, and I clearly missed some significant events in previous books that I didn’t read because the backstory had moved significantly forward. On top of this, I don’t know whether it’s my aging brain, but her choices of names for characters were very confusing:  Berger, Benton, and Lester all work with her; Marino and Morales are both cops.  I’m not sure that I’ll pick up another Kay Scarpetta novel.
  • Next up is Where There’s a Will: A Nero Wolfe Mystery by Rex Stout.  I don’t think I’ve ever read a Nero Wolfe novel (although I watched some on TV in the past), but it’s part of my Goodreads Seasonal Reading Challenge this fall. It should be a quickie.  After that I’m on to The Switch by Sandra Brown.
  • I’m plodding away on Clouds of Witness by Dorothy Sayers on my Kindle.  I haven’t had much time away from home for reading, which is where most of my Kindle activity takes place when I have a stack of library books to go through, but I want to make progress on this over the next week.
  • I’ve got one more chapter of Terry Fallis’ The High Road to finish up on my iPhone.  I’ve been listening to the free podcast from iTunes, but it’s now available in stores and is a terrific follow-up to his Stephen Leacock Award-winning first political satire, The Best Laid Plans.  I highly recommend both books!



My men-folk. Zouheir, Alex, Michael.

Warm nights and cool days

Books. And time to read.

Friends, old and new.

Wine that gladdens the heart.

Time to myself. Time with others.

The Church and her sacraments.

Mobility:  my car, public transit, my feet.

Family, near and far.

Plenty.  More than we need.

Music in my life and in the lives of those I love.

Voting, even when then choices are sub-optimal.

Communication:  touch, talk, written, electronic.

Fresh.  Water, food, air, ideas.

Access:  sustenance, information, association.

Love. From and to.  God.  Others.  Self.


Weekend Update

This weekend has felt incredibly long, probably because we stuffed too much in to it.

Zouheir took Michael and a band-mate up to band camp this weekend, so that pretty much ate up Friday night.  On Saturday, we relaxed in our empty nest in the morning, and then headed to Bloor West mid-afternoon to pick up our TPFF tickets at Beit Zatoun and grab dinner before the opening film.  We had some time to kill, so we wandered around Bloor/Bathurst area, dropping in to the By the Way Cafe for tea, and then Sarah’s Shawarma and Falafel for a satisfactory (but not great) dinner.  Our film last night was The Time That Remains, directed by Elia Suleiman, a kind of memoir of living as a “present absentee” in Nazareth.  It was a packed house at the Bloor, and it was interesting to see it again with a mainly Palestinian audience, as opposed to the TIFF audience last year.  There were some definite cheers from last night’s audience at certain points in the film that didn’t raise a peep a year ago.

After the film, we walked over to Yorkville and took in some of the Nuit Blanche sights.  There were long lineups for some of the venues and we decided not to wait.  We got in to the RCM and the Gardiner, the former an exciting installation and the latter somewhat disappointing.  We walked down Bloor and back along Cumberland, streets closed off for the event, but by 10:30, we were kind of cold and tired and decided to head back to the subway and home.

This morning, we had tickets for a Palestinian breakfast, part of TPFF, but I needed to head out to pick up Michael around 12:30, so Zouheir took a cousin and I went to choir and mass.  This morning’s music was entirely sung in unison, including hymns, which was not much of a work out.  We did Viadana’s Fratres, ego enim accepi a Domino and Accipite et manducate during the Offertory and Ralph Vaughn Williams setting of a George Herbert poem The Call.  The text of this song is beautiful:

Come, my Way, my Truth, my Life:
Such a Way, as gives us breath:
Such a Truth, as ends all strife:
Such a Life, as killeth death.

Come, My Light, my Feast, my Strength:
Such a Light, as shows a feast:
Such a Feast, as mends in length:
Such a Strength, as makes his guest.

Come, my Joy, my Love, my Heart:
Such a Joy, as none can move:
Such a Love, as none can part:
Such a Heart, as joys in love.

Right after mass, I hopped in the car and headed up to Lake Simcoe (Jackson’s Point) to pick up Michael from band camp.  He had a great time, and parents and other visitors were treated to a brief concert before everyone left.  The sound was terrific, and the students clearly enjoy the ensemble.  It is something of a stretch for Michael, but he’s loving it and learning a lot.  As soon as we got home, he crashed in his bed for an hour, and then came down and started practicing!  This, after a weekend full of rehearsals and clinics. He’s certainly got the bug.

I spent the rest of the afternoon lying on the couch trying to finish In the Woods by Tana French, an engrossing mystery that I’ve been too busy or tired to spend much time on the past few days.  But it’s a great story, and I just want to get it done before I have to get it back to the library.  I predict a significant plot twist shortly, so I’m desperate to get it done!

Seven Quick Takes Friday – The I-love-cheese edition.



I lasted 11 days on the paleo diet.  I had a couple of mishaps…I ordered a hotdog at Costco without thinking, and then I had a little mishap at Union Station involving a Cinnabon, but I’ve realised that I’m just not cut out to give up cheese.  Not to mention the paltry 2 pounds that I lost during that time, eating very healthily.  So last night I had a little party with some Mrs. Fields cookies and Ferrero Rocher thingy’s that came in some get-well baskets for Zouheir.  And that I’d been staring at for the entire 11 days.  This morning, I had cream in my coffee, three pieces of raisin toast with butter and some cheese.  Maybe I’d just rather be….curvaceous. 


Speaking of curvaceous, Zou and I went to see the Arabesque Dance Company at the Four Season’s Centre yesterday, during their free lunchtime presentations in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheater.  There were both female and male dancers, and the women were are all extraordinarily thin for belly-dancers.  Zouheir leaned over to me and whispered “you can see why middle eastern men like their women full!” as skinny belly-dancers just don’t really yield the full effect.  So you can see that cheese will also help me maintain my marriage.


We attended a screening of The Passion of Joan of Arc at the Bell Lightbox on Wednesday.  A silent film by Carl Theodor Dreyer, it was astounding, even taken on it’s own. But the two screenings were accompanied by Richard Einhorn’s oratorio Voices of Light, performed by the Toronto Consort and Choir 21.  Einhorn wanted to compose something based around Joan of Arc, and around that time a print of the film was discovered in a janitor’s closet in a mental institution in Norway.  He decided to write music to accompany the film, and this is what was presented at the screenings.

It was incredible.  The beauty and emotional weight of the film was masterfully underscored by the oratorio.  The vocal part was in Latin and Old French, and not meant to really be understood by contemporary audiences, although I recognized a lot of the Latin.  Zouheir and I talked about it well into the night, and more the next day.  Apparently Dreyer was one of the early filmmakers to use a lot of closeups, as well as kind of kooky shooting angles.  David Fallis, the conductor for the screenings, held a Q&A afterwards and talked about the film and the process of coordinating the music with the visuals.  A very enjoyable evening, our first Lightbox screening post-TIFF.


Michael heads up to the Hannaford Youth Band camp this weekend for lots of playing and a clinic with Glen Gould School tubist Sasha Johnson.  He’s fighting a cold and I kept him home from school today to rest before the weekend.  As it turns out, his school music teacher’s daughter (trumpter, out of high school for three years) is also in the band and we’ll be giving her a lift to and from camp this weekend.  


This weekend is the opening of the Toronto Palestine Film Festival and we’ve got a bunch of tickets for events.  Films:

The Time That Remains (2009; Elia Suleiman) – trailer

9 Aab (short film) and As the Poet Saidtrailer  (two films about poet Mahmoud Darwish)

Targeted Citizen (short) and Zindeeq

Nine to Five (short) and Jaffa, The Orange’s Clockworkfilm website

Budrus (2009; Julia Bacha) – film website

We also have tickets for Sahtain! A Traditional Palestinian Brunch on Sunday, followed by films and discussion with directors, but I will probably have to skip that to pick up Michael from band camp. 


This Saturday is Nuit Blanche in Toronto.  I attended it in the past, but this year we’ll be on Bloor Street and the opening night of TPFF, so my plan is to wander around the Avenue Road/Bloor area and drop into some of the installations in that area.  I’ve downloaded a free app for my iPhone which will make finding events easy. 


Zou goes back to work on Monday.  His surgery and recovery has been better than we could have anticipated and he’s feeling great.  He’s sleeping well, and keeps marvelling at how the lack of pain/discomfort has rippled through so much of his life.  He is anxious to start exercising, which his surgeon told him not to do for six weeks.  He may start swimming to at least get himself moving, now that his incision is completely healed.  The only issue is that he’s been having some headaches, but he attributes that to lack of exercise, or possibly a slightly higher blood pressure than is normal for him.  But otherwise, all systems are go!


For more Seven Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary.



Thoughts on conflict.


Part of life, it’s how we handle them that separate the girls from the women, viz:

  1. Michael’s school band camp is this weekend, and he signed up a couple of weeks ago to attend this four-day music-fest with his buddies from high school.  Then he got accepted into the Hannaford Youth Band and they have a camp scheduled at the same time.  He was very conflicted about which one to attend, and spoke with this HS music teacher last week who said “I want you at the school camp.”.  So he declined the invite to the Hannaford camp.  On Monday, his school music teacher pulled him out a vocal music class and asked him how his first Hannaford rehearsal went, and how he had decided on which camp to attend.  The teacher then told him that he’d learn more at the Hannaford camp, and that while he wanted Michael at school camp, that he’d grow more with the university-aged kids and the higher level of performance.  

    Michael called the Hannaford leaders as soon as he got home from school and was slipped onto the roster at the last minute.  They’ll have lots of playing and a chance to improve on the Eb tuba.  He’ll also have a clinic with Glen Gould School tubist Sasha Johnson which should be terrific. Plus getting to know his new bandmates.  It means I’ll have to drive him up Friday evening and pick him up on Sunday, but I’ll also get a chance to hear them play Sunday afternoon which will be great.

    I am proud of the way he handled this conflict.  That he was loyal to his initial commitment, and able to make a good choice when released from it. 

  2. I wrote a letter resigning from a local choir.  I decided to be direct about my reasons because I really believe in the choir’s mission, was leaving with some regret, and thought that my comments might be helpful.  I received a long note from the director outlining his frustrations, mitigating circumstances, and historical issues.  I was unaware of all of these things.

    I have reflected at some length on whether I was correct in sending the original letter.  My concerns still stand.  I might have been more gracious.  I’m not sure, at this point, but I replied with my heartfelt thoughts on the matter, with encouragement, and best wishes. 

I grew up in a family that didn’t (doesn’t) do conflict.  I married into one that does it loud and proud (and usually well).  As I get older, I am more able to express strong opinions and speak from my heart.  I am firm with my children, a reasonably good negotiator with my spouse, and consider myself to be straightforward with my friends and peers.  I’m past the age of caring what others think of me.  I hope that I ask questions that others are too shy to ask. My older son has inherited my (former) reticence, and my younger son is more like his father in that regard.   I have learned that it’s important to be heard, but that grace and charity (in the Catholic sense) need to be present.


Didja miss me?

Stuff happened in the 21 days since my last post, so here’s a quick recap of life in the fast lane:

  1. On Auguat 22 we had a mass said for Zou’s mom in Montreal at the Syrian Catholic Church (St. Ephrem).  The following week was full of appointments, lessons, and various back-to-school type things for Michael and Alex.  I went with Zou to his pre-op appointment at North York General.
  2. Got Michael off for a week at National Music Camp up near Orillia (Camp Wahanowin).
  3. Got Alex back to Queen’s and into his house.  He’s sharing with five other students in a house in a great location…close to the main drag and five minutes by foot to campus. Did some shopping for him and then we had dinner at Le Chien Noir.
  4. Headed up to Ottawa to hang with my mom for a few days.  Saw my sister and her family, and had a lovely lunch with her at Taylor’s Genuine Food and Wine Bar in her ‘hood.  Took my mother to visit my father’s grave and had lunch with her at Bella’s.  Had lunch with my good friend Ian at Infusion Bistro and then headed back to Toronto via Kingston to drop in on Alex again and ate at Atomica.  And I wonder why my trousers don’t fit.
  5. On September 5, Zou and I headed up to Music Camp to hear Michael play with his ensembles.  It was a great day and wonderful to hear him play!  He worked with William Carn and Scott Suttie and had a fabulous time at camp.  He’s looking forward to next year already!
  6. School started for Michael on September 7th and he is really happy with all his teachers.  After a little timetable fiddling, he got all his requested courses (Enriched Math, Science, Canadian History, Civics, Latin, English, and three music classes: Band, Vocal, Repertoire).
  7. On Friday the 10th, Zou went in to hospital to have a big kidney stone removed via percutaneous nephrolithotomy (through-the-skin-stone-removal, literally). It was a big one, and very hard to break up, but they got it out. They did the procedure using a scope, so the incision was tiny.  He was in hospital for five days and is home for a few weeks to recover.  His surgeon advised him to treat this like a significant kidney injury, to lay off the exercise and take it easy.
  8. I got an short extension on my summer online genealogy course and finished it up with another 100% exam.
  9. The Toronto International Film Festival started on the 9th and I ended up getting single tickets for four films the first week as I figured I wouldn’t have a date (and I enjoy attending these types of things on my own.)  Zou and I will attend three films this weekend if he’s well enough (which is looking good at this point).  We’ve also got the Toronto Palestine Film Festival coming up next month.
  10. Michael auditioned for the Jazz.FM91 Youth Big Band last Saturday and got accepted (on bass trombone)!  He is thrilled, and will start rehearsals this Saturday down at the station.  Saturday morning, he’s also auditioning for the Hannaford Community Band (on tuba).  So far, it looks like he can do both without a problem, so if he’s accepted there, he’ll be a busy boy!  He’ll be in at least five ensembles at school as well. He’s starting to talk about a music career…
  11. I’ve joined a GoodReads book group and am participating in the Fall Challenge.  It’s going kinda slowly, but I’ll pick up steam soon.  My reading list by task category is here….I’m hoping to get through a lot of things on my bookshelves so that I can give them away and make room for the piles that have not been shelved as of yet.

I hope to be back in my blogging form going forward.  It was just one of those things that had to drop over the past three weeks as I was kind of overwhelmed with life.  I have a couple of new courses in my genealogical studies that have just started, and I need to pick up my quilt again.

Talk to you soon.  Promise.

Life in the slow lane. Getting nowhere fast.

I started the day with a clear calendar.  Nothing scheduled.  I planned to get caught up on my summer genealogy course, some writing I need to do for our parish website, and my quilting, that has been languishing in bags in my dining room, all cut out and waiting to be stitched.  I pushed a friends proposed visit off to next week so that I could get to all this stuff.

But life happens.

After having the car in two repair shops for the past 36 hours and finally getting it back last night, the tire pressure light wouldn’t stay off, so I was tasked with getting it to one of the two shops for yet another look-see.  That’s two and a half hours of my life that I’ll never get back.  Two quick errands, and then home to pick up Michael to drive him to his trombone teacher’s studio to pick up the mouthpiece he left behind at his lesson earlier this week.  Another hour and a half.  

Finally check my email, book a table for lunch with friends tomorrow at Frank, book Wilson for boarding while we’re in Montreal this weekend, and suddenly it’s 2:30 and I haven’t done anything on my original list.

And now Michael is practicing the trombone, which means I can’t concentrate enough to get to at least two of my items.  Don’t get me wrong:  I love the fact that he practices so diligently. He’s got band camp in a couple of weeks, and then he’s auditioning for the Jazz 91.1 Youth Big Band and the Hannaford Community Band in mid-September, so he’s very motivated to spend lots of time with his horn.  But we’re in a small-ish house and the sound is everywhere.

On the plus side, the wait at the garage meant that I finished Nicholas Ruddock’s fabulous novel The Parabolist.  A review will be posted soon….when I get half an hour of peace to think.