February 27, 2005

Arrachar Alps

It was hillwalking day again yesterday. After a month of anxiety about whether I would or wouldn’t go and risk destroying my feet before heading off to Morocco on Friday – I threw in the towel and went with a compromise that I wear my trainers instead of my hillwalking boots.

I should have known better. Today instead of blisters I have swollen, sore, bruised ankles…. Nevermind. It was an absolutely gorgeous day. 11 miles, 5 hours, followed by a ‘few’ gin and tonics in the lochside pub in Arrochar.

There are more pictures loaded in the Photo Links (see sidebar right)

Hillwalking-feb-05-011.jpg

filles at 12:00 pm

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February 25, 2005

Trust

How do you know what to buy? I mean how do you get your technical advice on what monitor to buy, what portable cd burner to buy, TV, mp3 player, dvd recorder etc etc…

Me I do searches on the internet, but I still can’t decide. I check reviews on cnet.com and any other reviewing sites I can find, preferably in the UK but more often than not they are Stateside – which means that I go through all the reviews, decide on something and then, 9 times out of 10, find out that it’s either not available in Europe or it’s at least double the price.

It’s very annoying.

Then once you’ve spent 25 hours researching something, you place an order, only to discover (usually by accident) that 50% of the past customers think that the company is the best thing since sliced bread, but the other 50% would happily chop the balls off any one of the senior management team due to incredibly bad, obnoxious, deceptive customer service, poor delivery, or even more common – no delivery.

You can’t win.

I bit the bullet today and ordered a monitor over the internet. I’ve been watching the ‘order progress’ icon every 5 minutes for the last 3 hours and it hasn’t changed once. Maybe I would have been better paying the extra £50 and placing my order with a person instead?

filles at 3:45 pm

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Conventional Girls

We went to see Martha Wainwright last night at Brel. I can’t say that I knew much about her or her music before we arrived but I thought what the hell, she can’t be too bad coming from such a talented family.

Well, she wasn’t too bad as it happened. I was a bit worried at the start, I thought we were in for a night with a stoned hippy version of Cindi Lauper – but as she got comfortable, as the crowd warmed up, the show got better and better.

Now I won’t be rushing off to buy a CD in the near future, but it was fun, and she does have a lovely voice, it’s just the way she uses it that is not so conventional.

Definitely not a conventional girl which is probably a very good thing…

If you see her listed to play somewhere near you. Go.

filles at 3:33 pm

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February 22, 2005

a la demande generale!

On a weekly basis I’ll try to update you on what we are listening to at home and at the gym, the reviews we read, and what’s coming up music wise in this part of the world. As you can imagine, I’m spending most of my time trying to discover local Scottish music. The music creation in this part of the world is so amazing, it’s just one more bonus to an already great experience. Glasgow.

Decouverte du mois:
The Blue Nile: High
Genial. Finally I found the guy who sings the amazing song on the 6 feet under soundtrack. Paul Buchanan. Deep, moving voice, and the music…perfect with a book at night or first thing in the morning. (Scottish from Glasgow!)

The Notwist: Neon Golden. A few years old, but German electronica at its best! Talking about German music, I went to see a Turkish movie set in Hamburg (called Head On, which was excellent), and there was one song from Mercan Dede. A great Montréal composer. I’m a big fan of Mr.Dede. Montreal’s best kept secret …I was very proud !

Another discovery (for me anyway) in world beat this time: Souad Massi. She was playing at the Francofolies de Montreal last year. Her poster was everywhere in the city, also excellent, amazing voice, the Arabic style is not too “Arabic”. Getting some serious airplay prior to our Morocco trip next month (even thought she comes from Algeria).

Recent purchases:
This is what radio should sound like. A great title for an album, a sort of best of from an American label called Fivesixrecordings. Good music, eclectic, dance, electro. Cool stuff.
Japan: Tin Drum. From the 80’s. Definitely not recommended if you don’t already like Heaven 17, ABC, etc…
Athlete: Tourist. Their latest album. You must have heard me talking about them. Not as catchy at Keane, but also not as tacky. Highly recommended.
Mylo: Destroy Rock and Roll. Another Scottish artist, from Skye. Different electronica, very clever, some songs are very good, others very weird. For those who want to experiment, you’ll be rewarded!

Rediscovered:
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. I was never a big fan of Mr. Cave – but I never doubted his songwriting capability. We bought a ‘best of’ not too long ago, and it’s brilliant.

On high rotation:
Best of of Underworld. Like creme brulee !

Great listening at the gym:
Deep Dish in Toronto on Global Underground. Definitely not their best, but ok…

NEWS: Get ready for Ben Watt (one half of ‘Everything But The Girl) and another lady, Estelle, who have come up with a dance track that is supposed to be the best of the year, and we’re not even in March yet!!

Michelle (edited by Elissa…)

filles at 12:36 am

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February 20, 2005

Did you know they were all Scottish?

Now THIS was a concert.
Franz Ferdinand; Texas; Travis; Teenage Fanclub; Belle & Sebastien; Idlewild; Eddie Reader; Mogwai; Mull Historical Society; Deacon Blue; Snow Patrol; Trashcan Sinatras; Slam; Eugene Kelly; Kevin McDermott; Karen Dunbar; and hosted by Craig Hill.

Imagine all on the one bill. Some of Scotlands finest.

It happened. Last night. And we were there.

filles at 11:26 pm

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February 16, 2005

A B C

Did you know that homocystene levels in your blood can increase the risk of suffering from heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis, diabetes and neurological diseases? Just something I found out today… good news is, by increasing your intake of folic acid and vitamins B6 and B12 you can lower the homocystene levels and therefore reduce the risks. Elementary really.

Not much happening here. Michelle has been out every night watching strange films at the first ever Glasgow World Film Festival. She has managed to pick every weird, subtitled and disturbing film they are showing. I on the other hand, am happily staying in watching crap tv on a tv that is currently suffering from crap reception, something to do with the digital aerial pointing the wrong way(!).

Daytime activity has been reduced to searching for a hotel in Singapore, updating leases both here and in Montreal and plenty of other truly intellectually-challenging tasks.

filles at 4:55 pm

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February 14, 2005

Real vs Fake

I’m not anti-Valentines Day or anything, but really, fake plastic roses? Who makes them, and what do they think, ‘a flower is a flower is a flower?’.

I just don’t get it.

filles at 5:42 pm

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February 12, 2005

Celebrations

Occasionally, if you’re lucky, you come across someone in your life who never follows the rules of the masses, who is always individual, always honourable, and always genuine. We met one of these ‘special’ people about 8 years ago at this little engineering firm in Montreal and have been so much the luckier for it. It started with tea every afternoon, just because she was making a cup for herself, and then went on to cocktails after work, followed by dinners on the plateau, and festivals in the summer, and even weekends away in the country.

Always so open, so friendly, so kind and so human. We are so privileged to know you Sandy. Happy Birthday.

filles at 2:15 pm

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Breaking news

What can be worse than filing? For a usually well-organised person, this office is starting to look like a dump.

A ‘tip’ of an office…

There are photos spread out over the floor along with mounting card, magazines, disks, recycling, jars (!) and unfolded clean washing. In short a disaster area. The mental block is the filing. I have piles of it to do, and these piles are starting to stagger under their own weight. Wouldn’t you think that once you have identified the stumbling block, that everything magically falls into place?

My unconscious should be going… ‘ah, that’s it, concentrate, get that filing out of the way, then we can start on some good stuff!’

Unlikely. Instead, here I am, after making an exaggerated sweep of the desk to clear a small space in front of the screen, further delaying the inevitable by telling you about this drivel.

Right. That’s me then….

filles at 1:57 pm

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February 11, 2005

HOW old are you?

I found myself moaning to Michelle last night, “I wish I was 20 again”… How sad is that?

The truth is, I DO wish I was 20 again but with the knowledge that I know now, and perhaps less of the cynicism. It’s not like I’m ancient. But somehow, without me realising it, I’ve gone from the young one in the crowd to the ‘older’ more mature one… all in a matter of – well I guess ‘years’ really. How could that happen? What’s happened to my life – can I have it one more time, please?

It’s not like I regret anything, I can’t see the point. It’s just that I’ve started to really open my eyes and see all the possibilities around us. All the things to do and see and become. Things I never even saw when I was younger and braver and less ‘experienced’. It’s kind of a cosmic joke. When you’re young and able you don’t see all the potential, when your old and jaded, you can see it, you just can’t or just won’t take the leap for a million and one reasons, none of which are particularly valid.

So as of right now I’ve decided that that’s not the way it’s going to be for me and my life. I’m going to become one of those embarrassing old people that acts half their age. Since it’s Michelle that’s the closest to me, and the most likely to suffer any embarrassment – I should be ok. She’s the poster girl of young mindedness (I mean that in the most positive way). On the wrong side of 40 but so full of energy, with diverse and even eclectic tastes in just about everything. I think I can rely on her to keep me on the straight and narrow, or at least the young, open and carefree – depending on how you look at it!

filles at 4:00 pm

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February 10, 2005

A fab year ahead…

Today is the tenth day of both the longest and shortest month of the year. Shortest in days, longest in weather terms. In Montreal February used to just seem to drone on and on, one freezing day after another. Strangely enough, this is also the month where a lot of our friends seem to have birthdays… a few girls we used to work with, grandpa Jack, the champion guitar player from Ste Therese, an ex-husband, a dear friend from France and today it’s Nancy’s turn.

If you don’t know Nan personally you really are missing something. Italian in background, gorgeous looking, usually blonde, always cheerful, forever energetic, extremely talented, heart of gold and the perfect dim sum companion – and that’s just scratching the surface!

Bonne Anniversaire Nancy. We wish you lots of love & happiness, get set for another fruitful year! We’ll experiment with the cocktails in your honour this evening…. Cheers!

filles at 8:10 pm

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February 9, 2005

Julie

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filles at 6:44 pm

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY FRANCIS

Happy Birthday to a sweet & very dear friend. We wish you lots of love, happiness and good health through 2005…. xxx
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filles at 12:46 am

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lessons learned

Thanks to a great photography teacher, I had an impromptu lesson today on setup and management of a digital studio. David took me through his setup and gave me some valuable notes on lessons learned, setting up an inkjet printer for quality archival prints, best inks, best paper, as well as an in-depth look at b&w processing using Photoshop. All just out of kindness. And maybe, in a small part, because of my continual harassment…

No seriously, it was such a kind thing to do. Very very Scottish. I don’t know how I can thank him enough.

filles at 12:21 am

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February 6, 2005

Families

It would have been my grandfathers 90th birthday today had he lived to see it. Imagine, 90 years old.

When you start talking about ages around the 80s and 90s it’s hard to say whether it’s sad or not. I mean how long do we want to live for? In Jack’s case, he was immobile but his mind was still very sharp. It was too much to ask of my nana to take care of a large man unable to walk so he spent the last couple of years of his life in a nursing home. She went to visit him though. Every day. I find it impossible to imagine.

Anyway, Freda is still going strong. She’ll be 90 in May, the main reason for our trip home to Australia. She forgets things more often than not most of the time, but she’s still there. I talk to her every week, fill her in on what I’ve been up to, listen to her stories. It’s nice. She’s still very independant, but it’s more about being stubborn than being capable. Not that she’s not capable. It’s more for us, we worry. We want her to live close by to someone. Right now she lives in Sydney alone. My mum lives in Queensland, about 14 hours drive away. They’ve built a self-contained flat for her, but nana refuses to move. That independance thing again.

It’s difficult for so many reasons. I hate to waste time worrying about getting old because you can never be sure what’s around the corner. But sometimes it just happens, and I worry… life I guess.

Anyway, wherever you are grandpa, Happy Birthday. I’m thinking of you.

filles at 11:02 am

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