Tag Archives: seven quick takes

Friday Seven

  1. What an autumn. I sit here in Toronto with all my windows open, enjoying the November air. In the evenings, I put on the fireplace to keep toasty, but really. I’m enjoying this immensely.

    Ollie, cozy in front of the fireplace.
    Ollie, cozy in front of the fireplace.
  2. I had a med check with my doc last month to discuss what I’m on and, based on my blood work, see if any adjustments needed to be made. I was pretty sure my thyroid levels were a little high as I’m always warm, but he said that I was just fine. I also wanted to reduce the level of the SSNRI that I’ve been on for quite a while as I’m feeling well and thought it would be nice to get off it. He looked at me with a smile and said “You know, it could be the meds that are keeping you feeling well.” Acknowledged this, and we decided to give it a go to see whether my post-menopausal moods really needed it. I started the weaning process and cut down by 25% by alternating pill sizes each day. No apparent changes to my mood, but I had completely forgotten about the pain issues that Cymbalta is known to treat. It’s been two weeks, enough time to get to a steady state at 75% dose and I’ve decided to go back up. The total-body achiness is all coming back to me and I don’t want to be there again.
  3. I fixed the pilot light in my hot water tank! Well, fixed might be pushing it. I relit it. But I’ve never done it before and was pretty happy with my home repair skillz. We’ve never had an issue with our tank, but a recent shower that ended up lukewarm suggested that something was amiss. Luckily, the instructions were written on the tank. The hardest part was getting my creaky body down on to the floor to actually see the little flame (or, lack thereof.)
  4. My friend Kath is coming from Ottawa tomorrow for a week to do some genealogical research and go to the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair. We’re attending on November 11 and will see the Longines FEI World Cup and spend time on the exhibition floor. Last year I discovered that show cows wear hair extensions and some type of glossy spray is used to shine up the udders. We’ll also try to get to the Goats on the Go show, and watch for the latest Toronto celebrity-goat, Turbo. There are lots of great, local wares for sale, like honey, wool, flour, cheese, and an entire area devoted to Northern Ontario producers. Plus lots horsey and animal stuff for the hardcore. Kath got a gorgeous turquoise blanket two years ago for her horse River.

    Kath and River, Spring 2014
    Kath and River, Spring 2014
  5. Genealogy-wise, we’ll hit the Archives of Ontario (at York University), the City of Toronto Archives, and probably the Toronto Reference Library. We’re hoping to have our annual breakfast with our mutual friend Jay at OverEasy on Bloor Street. (Other hangers-on are welcome!) We’ll try to fit in a visit to the Turner exhibit at the AGO and/or Warhol at the Lightbox; Kath is an artist (although she hasn’t been arting much over the past few years.) When we went to the Abstract Expressionist exhibit at the AGO a couple of years ago (her favorite period), she taught me so much. It’s exciting to see art with a knowledgeable person.
  6. I’ll be spending a quite a bit of time in Vancouver over the next year or two. Z has “moved” out there for work, has a lovely apartment in the Coal Harbour area, and I will be the one commuting. I’m aiming for half time out there and the rest here in Toronto. It will be a change to go from cold and sunny to mild and grey, but I like the city and will try to find a way to bring Ollie out with me with the least stress for him (and me.) Otherwise, his brother from another mother (and father), namely, my elder son, is very happy to dogsit in my absence.
  7. Saw an excellent documentary on the microbiome on The Nature of Things last week. I’ve been reconsidering my diet over the past few months, trying to reduce the amount of animal protein I consume. More to come on the blog.

For more quick takes, visit our host at the This Ain’t the Lyceum.

Seven Quick Takes – Is it March already?

Seven Quick Takes Friday

  1. Brasstronomical---bigI’m listening to the new Heavyweights Brass Band disc Brasstronomical that just dropped last night. We’re big fans around here, not just because they’re a hot local indie group, that crosses genre lines, but the sousaphonist Rob Teehan was Michael’s teacher for four years and had a huge influence on his decision to pursue his music dreams. Here’s a little promo vid:
  2. i’ve got a couple of great books on the go right now. You’ve already heard my thoughts about the Neil Young memoir, but I’m also reading I The Divine: A Novel in First Chapters by Rabih Alameddine. Zouheir read his masterwork The Hakawati a year or so ago and has been raving about him ever since.
  3. If any of you use the Kobo ereader, there’s a coupon code for 30% off selected ebooks, good until March 9. Lynn Coady’s The Antagonist is there and it’s a terrific read. I’ve just picked up the Priscilla Uppal memoir Projection : Encounters with my Runaway Mother which is on my to-read list this month.  Be sure to use the coupon code MARCHOFFER.
  4. Thinking about a Toyota Venza. Any views yay or nay?
  5. Since my Goddard meet-up two days ago, I’ve re-invigorated my search for more cousins that I know are in the area but that I’ve never met. My great-grandfather Stephen Robert Goddard had a brother Samuel who had four daughters. I’d really like to see if I can find some of their descendants. Their married surnames are Bessey, Beecraft, and Young. The girls were born in the Toronto area between 1888 and 1893. PLEASE get in touch if you think we’re related.
  6. Look what I found at Value Village this week:
    And I bought it because this:

    Nathan Fillion of course!
    Nathan Fillion of course!


  7. On my way back from Barrie on Wednesday, I popped into the factory outlets to check out the Villeroy & Boch store, home of our china pattern. We don’t have room for more dishes really, but I picked up a couple of the large coffee mugs (of which we only have 2) so that there’s no more early morning pre-caffeinated contention for them.
    While I was there, I also stopped in to Crabtree and Evelyn to buy some small tubes of their beautiful hand cream for my purse. I have this thing about wearing gloves in the winter (as in NOT wearing gloves) and my hands are appalling. Or maybe it’s just age. Anyway, the young woman working there introduced me to their hand recovery product, a gritty scrub that is also moisturizing. After the demo, I realised that my hands felt better than they do in our high-humidy summers. SOLD (and on sale.)
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Seven Quick Takes – Who loves ya’?

Seven Quick Takes Friday

  1. I have to admit that after 30 years of marriage, Valentine’s Day has something of a been-there-done-that feel to it. We love each other madly, but really don’t need a day to revel in it more than we normally do. But here’s a shot from a year or so after we were married and spent six weeks in France and England. On the left is Zouheir’s younger brother.

    Jacques, me, Zouheir. Christmas 1984. Villeneuve-le-Roi, France
    Jacques, me, Zouheir. Christmas 1984. Villeneuve-le-Roi, France
  2. I’ve successfully found a home for the memorial cards I blogged about a few weeks ago. The contact I made through ancestry.ca resulted in a referral to a granddaughter of Samuel, one of the younger siblings of the deceased children. He moved with his wife to Winnipeg MB in 1915 and his granddaughter lives on the west coast. I’ve popped the cards into the mail for her.
  3. Last week, I booked a table at a downtown resto for tonight through the Opentable system. Earlier this week, I got a message from them saying that we were seated in the bar, there were no more spots in the dining room, and that we were limited to an hour and a half as they needed the table. I cancelled. And tweeted about it. The restaurant replied to my tweet saying “sorry for the confusion, it’s just an estimate for 2ppl that we try to communicate. You can take as long as you want.” Sorry. Too little too late. Sadly, i’m sure they’ll be fully booked tonight and really don’t care.
  4. We’re seeing Heartbeat of Home, part of the Mirvish subscription series, tomorrow night. This is not something I would buy single tickets for, but Richard Ouzounian gave it 4/4 stars so we’ll see what all the fuss is about. We’ve booked a table at Portico before, a new restaurant (to us).
  5. I’ve made contact with another branch of my ancestry! My maternal grandmother was a Goddard, and thanks to the intrepid work of members of the Goddard Association of Europe, I have connected with a third cousin who is a sheep farmer in northern Ontario (near New Liskeard.) My second great grandfather William and his great-grandfather John both emigrated to Ontario from Kent in the UK around 1870. The children of Willam came south to Toronto and his grandfather John Jr. went north to Temiskaming. Very exciting! We’re hoping to meet up sometime in March when he’s passing through Toronto.

    Great-grandmother Minnie, Grandmother Daisy, Great Uncle Percy, Great Grandfather Stephen
    My Goddard ancestors: Great-grandmother Minnie (Price), Grandmother Daisy, Great Uncle Percy, Great Grandfather Stephen
  6. House of Cards season 2 is now available on Netflix. This may be our Valentine’s Day watching tonight. Yesterday, President Obama tweeted

    Here’s the trailer for the new season:


  7. I’m still loving my Bulletproof Coffee every morning. Check it out if you’re looking for a way to feel energized and productive. I’m gonna post more on this topic soon.

Lots more Seven Quick Takes over at Conversion Diary!

Seven Quick Takes Friday


  1. It’s been a tough week. I surrendered our dog, Wilson, to Toronto Animal Services yesterday after a biting incident earlier this summer. He’s a terrier mix, with a lot of Jack Russell in him, and he charged and bit a letter carrier after he got off-leash. It was a horrible accident (although the bite was a minor injury), but I realized that his behaviour was too unpredictable for us to manage. Every visitor to our house was a stress. We have no yard at our current home, unlike when we adopted him in Georgia, and even with 3-4 walks a day, we were unable to provide him with sufficient opportunities to burn off energy. I’ve been weepy all week, and broke down at the shelter when I took him in. My greatest hope is that they can find a home for him where he will be able to be the dog that he is. I can’t really say any more.
  2. I got my hair cut after my trip to Animal Services yesterday. It felt kind of like mourning, but at the same time a fresh start. It’s shoulder length and layered a bit. And I feel so silly writing about it now.
  3. Last night, we attended the Season Opener for the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, a wonderful program including Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture, and a commission from Toronto Composer Larysa Kezmenko called Behold the Night, based on a Midsummer’s Night Dream. The second half was William Walton’s Henry V: A Shakespeare Scenario featuring actor Christopher Plummer (who also arranged this work) reciting parts of the play from memory. Walton scored Larurence Olivier’s film Henry V, from which this work is derived. It was spectacular, and great finish to what had been a very sad day. The evening was capped by the TSO’s after party featuring the Heavyweights Brass Band in the lobby of Roy Thomson Hall.
  4. Z and I head to Orlando on Sunday where he is attending a conference and I will take five days to relax in the sun. I was able to score a very cheap flight and there’s no upcharge for me to stay at the (very nice) hotel hosting the conference.
  5. Michael auditioned for and was accepted into the Hannaford Youth Band and Jazz.fm Youth Big Band, both of which he played in last year. These ensembles are wonderful ways for him to get experience performing repertoire on both the tube (Hannaford) and bass trombone (Jazz.fm) and I’m pleased that he’ll be playing with them again this year.
  6. While we were downtown yesterday, we picked up tickets for Noel Coward’s Private Lives, now in previews at the Royal Alexandra. Starring Paul Gross and Kim Cattrall, it’s been getting a lot of positive buzz. Mirvish is also bringing War Horse to Toronto in the new year and I’m looking forward to that as well. 
  7. Friends from our parish were featured on the front page of the Star this week. John and Kathleen Rudolph are both professional musicians.  John is Principal Percussionist with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and Kathleen teaches flute at the Glenn Gould School and University of Western Ontario. Kathleen and I are altos in the parish choir, and Kathleen often fills in on the organ. Their daughter, Theresa, was just hired by the TSO, their first parent-child pair. The piece in The Star is lovely and worth a read.

More Quick Takes over at Conversion Diary.

Seven Quick Takes Friday


  1. I was interviewed by a writer from the Wall Street Journal yesterday for a piece on white noise apps. I had blogged about it at some pointWhite Noise iPhone Icon (although I can’t seem to find the piece now) and she contacted me by telephone. While white noise machines have been around for a long time for use in helping people sleep, the emergence of apps for smartphones is relatively recent and she’s exploring what people do with them. My main uses are to block out noise when I am trying to read (in a waiting room, on the subway, etc.) or to help me sleep when I’m in a noisy environment like a plane or train. The app I use is White Noise and it’s available from the App Store on iTunes.
  2. I dropped by the Oakwood branch of the Toronto Public Library for the first time this week.Michael was at a trombone lesson nearby and it offered comfy chairs in a lovely light-filled space. Check out the door handles!
  3. We’ve been loving our new grill! I can’t believe how much more I am willing to cook in the summer when it does’t involve heating up the house. We’ve made some great steaks, chicken, lots of grilled veggies with onion and mushrooms, and tonight we’ve got some wild salmon that I think I’ll do in foil. Corn is in season, so I’ve also been enjoying that, although I haven’t grilled any yet. I’m going to try that tonight using the advice from the National Post, which is to just shuck it, brush the cobs lightly with oil and pop it directly on the grill. Easy peasy. 
  4. A couple of pieces from Zen Habits have really struck me this week. The first is a guest post by Chris of Zen to Fitness called Four Simple Fitness Fundamentals in which he encourages people to focus on the basics of living a fit life before getting all fancy. These include (1) using your bodyweight (squats, pushups); (2) not hyperfocussing on cardio; (3) walk and stretch every day; and (4) live an invigorating life.

    The second piece, written by Leo Babauta (the host of Zen Habits) is The Amazing Power of Being Present. So many people have monkey-brain these days, and spend a lot of time worrying about what they SHOULD be doing instead of focussing on what they ARE doing. There is definitely a lesson for me here, and practicing this, along with using the brain dump(pdf) recommended in Getting Things Done, are probably crucial to moving forward the million projects I have spinning around in my head.
    I’m looking orward to living an invigorating life when the temperature drops a bit!

  5. I just discovered Val McDermid, a writer of rather gory police procedurals set in England. I’ve read the first two Tony Hill and Carol Jordan mysteries namely The Mermaids Singing and Wire In The Blood. Very gory. But hard to put down. I put them down when I needed a break from the gore and then picked them back up again. 
  6. Another discovery this week:  we have free on-demand stuff with our cable* service. Maybe it’s a new thing, but there are quite a few decent movies and a bunch of series that we can get. I watched the HBO mini-series Mildred Pierce earlier this week and it was fantastic! Starring Kate Winslet and Guy Pearce, it is apparently a more accurate portrayal of the James M. Cain novel than the 1945 film starring Joan Crawford. I’m now catching up on Season 3 of Nurse Jackie that I somehow completely missed. Makes ironing pass quickly!
    *[Edited to correct: we don’t have cable per se. We have IPTV or internet television. Glorious HD over a telephone wire.]  
  7. My current reads are:
    Book:  Bech: A Book by John Updike. I haven’t read any of the Bech novels, so am looking forward to this one.
    Audio: Apple Turnover Murder by Joanne Fluke. Slightly better than I was expecting, plus bonus recipes for baked goods.
    Kindle: Alice Adams by Booth Tarkington. Haven’t actually started this yet, but it’s on my Goodreads list to finish by the end of August. 

Pop on over to Conversion Diary for more 7 Quick Takes! 

Seven Quick Takes Friday: Iris Murdoch Edition.


  1. It’s the late Iris Murdoch’s 92nd birthday, and I happen to be reading her novel The Nice and The Good.  First published in 1968, it’s a tale of a complex household in Dorset that includes a married couple (Octavian and Kate), their two children, an elderly uncle, a divorced friend of the wife whose ex-husband works for Octavian and her twins, a widow (friend of Kate) and her son, a housekeeper, a refugee scholar who lives in a cottage on the property, a cat and a dog.  Also in the cast of characters is a friend of Octavians who is in love with Kate, said friend’s girlfriend who he is trying to break up with, his manservant, and an ex-lover of the divorced friend. There is also a suicide (murder?) victim who works for Octavian. I had to make a little cheat sheet about 50 pages in to the novel to keep track of who everyone is.  But it’s a good read and I’m about halfway through.
  2. Our 18-year-old nephew, Marc, from France has been here for three weeks.  He did two weeks of English language lessons at a terrific school here in Toronto, had done the requisite trip to Niagara Falls, spent a weekend at our cottage, and has hung out with our boys in the evenings when they’re at home.  He’s really easy-going and has been a pleasure to host.This weekend will include the new Harry Potter movie and a day at Canada’s Wonderland with Alex.  He heads home on Tuesday with (I hope) great memories.  We’ve been encouraging him to consider University of Waterloo for graduate studies (he’s in Computer Engineering) and I know he’d love to return to Canada at some point. (Photo is Marc and Z at….guess where?)
  3. We’ve finally hired a cleaner to deal with our house as I have simply not been up to the task. The “deep” clean was thie past Monday and apparently we had a remarkable amount of dust throughout our house (she feigns surprise). Gleaming Glenn will be back each Monday to keep us sparkling and it will let me focus on decluttering.  
  4. Z was a witness before the CRTC earlier this week at the Usage Based Billing (UBB) consultation.  He’ll be back next week for more. It brings back my old days at Bell when I was involved in a number of regulatory proceedings, responding to interrogatories and preparing witness testimony and backup. I loved that work and have enjoyed discussing the current hearings. I’ve been following the twitter feed with much interest (#ubb for any geeks out there.) We’re such romantics!
  5. I’ve started a family history wiki, private to family members at the moment, where I am trying to compile data, photos, stories, etc about my ancestors.  If you’re in my family and would like an invite, drop me a line. It’s still in a fairly preliminary stage and it’s my first time creating a wiki (I’m using the free version of PBworks) but I think it has great potential to become a repository of multiple types of information and a way to pass on the family history after I’m gone.
  6. Michael is taking Grade 11 Physics at summer school to free up a period in his schedule next year to permit more practice time.  He’s half-way through the course and it’s going very well. A tiring exercise (five days a week, 8:45-3:30), he gets a full year credit in less than a month and, frankly, keeps him occupied through the summer.  The teacher is excellent and he seems very focussed on doing a great job. He’ll have three weeks break, and then two weeks of music camp to top off his summer, a week of jazz with his trombone and a week of band/classical with his tuba.
  7. One of the big results of our visit from Gleaming Glenn was his tidying of the boys rooms. Michael was so happy, that he did a whole bunch of additional decluttering and has decided to move all his instruments upstairs, along with the digital piano. He asked for a smaller desk so that this could be accomodated, and we found one at Value Village for $14.99 (less 20% student discount):

    It is basically particleboard with an ugly faux wood-grain base.  Two cans of RustOleum Universal spray paint (black) yielded this:


    Another few hours to cure and it’ll grace his room.

Read more Quick Takes over at Conversion Diary.


Seven Quick Takes Friday


  1. The boys are both away from home this week and it’s been nice, in a wierd kind of way. Alex is up at the cottage witih his girlfriend and they’re due back sometime today. Michael is working at the Toronto District School Board’s Music by the Lake camp for elementary school students. He’s a junior staff assistant, asked to work sort of last-minute-ish as they needed a trombone player. From the few texts we’ve received, it sounds like he’s having a good time. We’ll pick him up tomorrow around noon and then he needs to study for his exams next week.
  2. Saw the absolutely thrilling production of Alice in Wonderland last night at the National Ballet of Canada. I’m not a big ballet afficianado…I’ve only ever been to The Nutcracker (multiple times, from childhood) but this got such raves that I thought it was worth checking out.  I’m a convert! Originally a production of the Royal Ballet, it’s full of surprises with stunning sets, props, and effects, and the score by Joby Talbot is terrific.

    <Image courtesy of National Ballet>

  3. Saw an old friend from high school on Wednesday evening. It’s been years, yet we fell into conversation as if it had been a few days. Isn’t it wonderful how that happens?  I’ll see her again tonight as we’re both attending Verdi’s Un Ballo in Maschera, courtesy of Opera By Request, in which a mutual friend (also from high school) is singing.
  4. The annual Luminato Festival starts this weekend and we’ve actually lined up tickets to some events this year! On our calendar:
    – One Thousand and One Nights, a new theatrical production of these Arabic folktales. It’s actually being staged in two three-hour segments, but we’ll see one of them.
    – We tried to get tickets to hear Lebanese author and creator of the script for 1001 Nights Hanan al-Shayk, but they were sold out. I’m hoping maybe they’ll repeat the event. 
    – Next weekend, we’ll see “a raw and shocking re-imagination of Racine’s classic play [Andromache] from provocative Scottish director Graham McLaren.” Z studied the play in school, but I am completely ignorant, so I should probably do a little reading about it … 
    – I’m keen to take in the free installation by architect Philip Beesley called Sargasso. It was at the Vienna Biennale. There’s a little promo video about it at the link that’s well worth a watch.
    – Next Friday is a free outdoor concert in David Pecaut square featuring kd lang. Yay! 
    Can you see why I love Toronto?! 
  5. Next Thursday, I’m heading to Stratford with two gal pals to see Seana McKenna in Richard III. As Richard III. The play did NOT get great reviews, but I’m looking forward to it nonetheless.

    <Image courtesy Stratford Shakespeare Festival>

  6.  Our garden is actually looking somewhat acceptable this summer. There is still a whole section to tidy up, but I’ve started putting mulch down after I pull weeds, and the grass seed I picked up at Costco on the spur of the moment is doing really well in filling in some of the patchiness of the lawn. Being on a corner lot, everuthing is basically exposed, so it’s been kind of embarrassing to have this wild and wooly thing happening on our property.  
  7. Just finished a terrific book, Brooklyn, by Colm Toibin. It’s the story of a young Irish woman in the 50s who emigrates to Brooklyn and finds herself stuck between her old and new lives.  It’s a compelling portrait of that time, relations between Irish, Italians, Jews, and African-Americans in this bustling city of immigrants. As a genealogist, it gave me some insight into what it must have been like for single women to come to the “new world” for a better life, without family, having to make new friends and find their way on their own (or, as in this case, with help from her parish priest.)  I highly recommend this quick read.
  8. Bonus: I am desperately trying to break my habit of putting two spaces after a period. There has been so much mockery of old-school people like me who were taught that in the last century, and it’s terribly ingrained. But I’m trying.

Visit Jennifer over at Conversion Diary for more Quick Takes!


Seven Quick Takes Friday


Haven’t done this for a while, but here we go:

  1. I’m in Guelph for a workshop on Scottish Genealogy with Dr Bruce Durie, Course Director of Genealogical Studies at Strathclyde University.  He’s visiting the Scottish Studies department at the University of Guelph and I’m looking forward to getting some tips on researching the Morren branch of my family tree.
  2. I”m staying at a rather low-end hotel close to the university campus and didn’t sleep all that well last night.  The air conditioning system is extremely noisy and the room is rather poorly furnished with lumpy pillows and a tiny bathroom.  Don’t get me started on the vile in-room coffee. I don’t know why I even bother brewing it. There is breakfast offered in the lobby but I am seriously considering just skipping that and hopping across the street to Cora
  3. Ancestry.ca just announced some new records:  The Canada School Directories. I found a Goddard ancestor in the Annual Register and Business Directory of the Sons of England Benevolent Society for the Dominion of Canada which is a terrific find because I knew very little about him. There also appears to be some old case law in Ontario from the late 1800s with the name Goddard which I will be following up on.
  4. I’m looking forward to our trip to England in a couple of weeks. We’ll be staying at the Queen’s International Study Centre at Herstmonceux Castle for the first four days and then will travel in Kent. I still need to book some accomodation for those last four days so must get on that this weekend.
  5. We’ve also booked travel to Stockholm at the end of July, for just the two of us. It will be the anniversary of Zouheir’s mother’s death in August and there will be a mass said for her. All of her children will be there and we’re planning a two-night cruise to Helsinki together which should be lots of fun and a great way to be together with everyone freed up from cooking and hosting:  a very suitable way to celebrate this remarkable woman. It will be my first visit to Sweden and I am very much looking forward to seeing Stockholm, as well as visiting with my wonderful in-laws.
  6. My boys are doing well. Alex’s second year at Queen’s is drawing to a close, with classes ending in a week and then exams start on the 15th of April. He’ll be working as a Section Head at Crestwood Valley Day Camp in July and August and is hoping to do some French study in France in May and/or June if he can find a place to study and get credit. Michael is hanging in for the rest of Grade 10, still busy with Music and working hard to focus on his other schoolwork as well. He’s got a gig with the Jazz.fm Youth Big Band this Sunday at The Rex (Noon) and concerts with Hannaford coming up as well. He’ll also be playing in a masterclass with Patrick Sheridan. He’s looking forward to two weeks at Interprovincial Music Camp in August: one week of Jazz (bass trombone) and one week of Band/Orchestra (tuba).
  7. One of the perks of being an opera subscriber is the occasional freebie. Earlier this season, on the evening of the municipal elections (and presumably low ticket sales due to the high anxiety around that election), I got comped two box-seat tickets for Death in Venice which was a terrific show, in all it’s depressing glory. Next Monday, we’ve got invites to a working rehearsal of La Cenerentola (Cinderella).  This is not one of the operas in our subscription package, so I’m excited to be able to catch a freebie, even if in it’s un-final form.

Check out some other quick takes at Conversion Diary.

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!


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Seven Quick Takes Friday


  1. We had our final choir rehearsal last night before our participation in the Rosary Procession and Eucharistic adoration at the Marian Shrine of Gratitude this Sunday.  We were in a different church hall with rather poor lighting (not to mention a very musty smell).  I had to take my glasses off to see my music, and so could not see Joseph, our conductor, very well.  But it’s all coming together I think.  The chant bits are a bit robotic, but I think it’ll be a great evening.
  2. Zouheir gets home tomorrow evening and I need to get the house in order.  Things tend to slip a little when he’s away, so today will be a big clean-up.  I also want to get the curtains in our bedroom hemmed (and by hemmed, I mean ironing on the hemming tape that came with the panels.  I’ve already done the sheers, so it’s not a big job.  Just six panels.  I don’t even take them off the rods, but just pull them up onto the ironing board and away we go.
  3. A couple of times a day, I get hit with the memory that Josephine is no longer with us.  Because she lived in Europe, we didn’t see her that often.  But we spoke to her at least once a week, and she was always available to chat, especially for Zouheir.  There will be a mass said for her at St. Ephrem Syrian Catholic Church in Montreal next weekend, so we will be there to sort of host it.  The former parish priest, who is now the Bishop of Jerusalem for that rite, is in Montreal and he will say the mass.  He knew her well and we are grateful that he will be celebrating that day.
  4. I got a very nice email from Michael’s bass trombone teacher regarding his progress and dedication.  Michael picked up this instrument last fall so that he could join the Stage Band at school  and had a few lessons from his tuba teacher. But he’s heading to music camp at the end of the month and wanted to get some solid teaching in before that, so he’s had five weekly lessons so far this summer and he’s really improving.  (Trust me, I can hear the practicing.)  I’m thrilled that he’s so keen about music, both playing and listening.  He’s also started to teach himself piano this summer which is wonderful. 
  5. I am listening to Peter Carey’s Parrot and Olivier in America, a wonderful novel with terrific narration by Humphrey Bower.  It’s set in the 19th century, after the French Revolution, and concerns the son of French aristocrats and the motherless son of an itinerant English printer, who are linked through a series of events and end up travelling to America together. Incredibly rich in period detail and funny as heck, I am enjoying this book immensely.  I’m not usually an audio-book reader, but Bower is wonderful at capturing not only the two voices in the novel (one French, one English) but the minor characters as well (women, Americans, a Jewish impresario, etc).  I’m a little over halfway through and highly recommend it!  
  6. I met with Sister Bernadette Reis last night of the Daughters of St. Paul.  She’s doing a retreat in our parish in September and it’s going to be dynamite!  I’m helping put it together with another Catholic Women’s League exec and we’re both very excited about it.  We’re opening it up beyond the parish and hope to get a good crowd out.
  7. I have stalled on both my quilt and my genealogical studies.  I have been preoccupied this week, and while I haven’t been particularly busy, I guess I just don’t feel like working on either of those things.  Bereavement is a funny thing….I thought that these activities would relax and distract me, but I just can’t seem to get enough focus to work on them.  While I’ve got the ironing board out to do my curtains, I’ll press the squares I’ve sewn to date and maybe that will get me back on track on the quilt at least.  I am scheduled to start two new genealogy courses in September, so I’ve really got to get the one I’m doing finished soon.  

Normally hosted by Jennifer at Conversion Diary, this week’s Seven Quick Takes is being guest-hosted at Betty Beguiles.  Drop by to read more Quick Takes!