Friday, January 23, 2015

Five Things Friday

1. The summer before last, Paul and I watched this film en français, in a great little repertory cinema in Bordeaux. We grasped enough to know it was powerful, very moving, but we knew we'd missed many of the important subtleties and sub-texts. So I was thrilled to see it available on Netflix last week, and even more thrilled that a version was available with the subtitles in French (there's also English subtitling available, if that's your preference). Generally, while the soundtrack of French movies is left in French, the movies we get here are subtitled only in English. I would prefer subtitling help in French, just to help me figure out what I'm hearing. Watching it this way confirmed how much we'd miss the first time. It also confirmed how sensitive and complicated and rich this film is, how attentive to so much of the human condition, the complexity of relations, and the possibility for trying to be our better selves, to step up morally, especially for the sake of children. The importance of acceptance and forgiveness. Watch this. You will not regret it!
 I'm teaching a version of a 2nd-year course  our department designed to appeal to a wider range of students than our English majors and minors. Depending who teaches it, the course readings change according to the focus we choose; I've built my curriculum around books about Paris, a mix of fiction and non-fiction, popular and more "literary." And what an indulgence this is turning out to be! We've just read and discussed C.S. Richardson's The Emperor of Paris which I first read a few years ago and wrote about here.

 Trying to make the "waiting for retirement" stage as rich as possible rather than putting my life on hold until then, I've been concentrating again on folding some "social" back into my schedule. A week ago, for example, I met a friend for a quick breakfast before our work days started. Too short a visit, yes it was, but otherwise too many months go by without anything at all. And saying good-bye while still thinking of all the topics we haven't covered is incentive to book the next breakfast soon!

Similarly, I met a friend and former neighbour for coffee a few days ago, at the end of my "early day" at work. She was watching the clock, because her dog was waiting in the car, and I wanted to get home in time for dinner, but we filled that hour and a half with non-stop conversation, and I've got a new list of books to read as a result.

Last Friday, my work-at-home day, I followed up my yoga class with a trip to the grocery store to grab easy snacks to accompany the wine I'd invited a few girlfriends over for -- A Wine-Down Friday Afternoon, as I termed the event. I've done this before a few times, but not for months. Given the spirit-lifting effect, especially compared to the relative investment (yes, I have to organize a bit, clean a bit, shop a little, but that's really it). . . . I do wonder why I don't do this more often. Time for a resolution, perhaps. . .

 Pater got me a TomTom Runner Cardio watch for Christmas, and I've been having fun with taking every possible kind of metric on my runs -- it tracks my heart-rate, my distance, my pace (both current and then average over the run), calories burned, strides per minute, elevation, and probably a few other items I've forgotten. As well, once I get more used to it, I can use it in training mode, setting up a program for intervals or working out splits for a race.

I resisted bothering with a runner's watch for years, and then once I conceded that it might be helpful in developing awareness of pace and pushing my speed (especially since I tend to do most of my running on my own), I was overwhelmed by the choices and kept putting off a decision. So I was delighted that Pater took on the consumer research involved. If you're a runner, do you, or have you, run with a GPS watch?

 And I think we need another picture, don't we? So here are a couple of shots of a miracle I've been watching this week. . . those muscari clusters were the merest emerging buds on Sunday, and now you can easily see the shape that the separate flowers will pop out from. . .
 My girlfriend brought this little pot along with her when she arrived for my Friday Wine-Down (see #3). She'd grabbed a few various pots of spring blooms at the local grocery store, on sale nearing the end of season last year, enjoyed their cheer indoors, and then popped them in her garden, pots and all.  
And then, spotting their welcome foliage erupting into the January gloom, she'd brought them inside -- and grabbed one for me to enjoy as well. We both have many such plants out in the garden, but getting to watch the growth, up close and personal, has been a distinct pleasure.

I'll make sure to watch out when the potted blooms are on sale in a few weeks and follow Alison's lead. Do you do this? Buy spring bulbs, potted and in bloom, and then plant them out to enjoy in upcoming years?

Anyway, that's it for my Friday Five Things -- Hope you enjoyed. We're off to Vancouver after today's yoga class (we have a great Friday morning routine of yoga class followed by late breakfast at our favourite local spot (with the charming French name of Mon Petit Choux).  Chat soon . . . .don't forget to leave a comment, if you're so inclined. . . 


  1. Spring bulbs, enjoyed indoors and then planted are a real pleasure - it's like having the season twice. Right now I have hyacinths blooming inside - next spring they'll bloom a little later, in a flower bed.
    Thanks for the film recommendation. Sometimes it's overwhelming to scroll through Netflix - I like to have something in mind.
    Time to be social. Hmmmm. This has been missing from my life for a while. There has to be intention, I guess - otherwise work and extended family use up every drop of time. I like your Friday night idea and may borrow it.

  2. I get spring bulbs, enjoy them indoors (love the scent) then plant them outside for the squirrels to enjoy!

  3. Love the idea of bringing small pots of bloomers inside! Now that we've figured out how to watch Netflix on the tee vee, am going to add that movie to our list for this weekend's watching. And I'm hungry for some Paris-themed reading, having recently finished "The Seven Ages of Paris" by Alistair Horne, a very good history, so will check out "The Emperor Of Paris." Bon weekend!

  4. What a great idea about the spring bulbs, must try that sometime. Since our house is relatively new, so far there's only lawn front and back, and the obligatory single tree outside. There will be no landscaping until the fence and deck have been built.

    Your Paris literature course sounds like fun - a good topic for both teacher and students. We have hardly watched any Netflix in ages - our screen time together is mostly catching up on PVR'd series like Downton, Shetland, etc.

    Have a lovely weekend in the city!

  5. I adore those wee muscari and have oodles in our front garden...they are coming along quite nicely right now...I just peeked!
    Have you seen the film Le Weekend? We watched it a few weeks ago and The Summer in Provence is on Netflix and was good as well as Haute to hear of more French films that you have seen and enjoyed.

    1. It's on my list, L. Did enjoy The Summer in Provence -- have you watched Cycling with Molière, My Afternoons with Marguerite, The Intouchables, Before the Winter Chill -- all very good. . .

  6. I love the idea of forcing bulbs and then planting them outside. My favorite flower is lily of the valley. I wonder if I can find any "pips" now. I have an amaryllis growing now that my sister sent me for my birthday right before Christmas.

    The runner's watch sounds great! Your husband is wonderful for researching this. At some point I'll get a heart rate monitor to wear while spinning, to quantify my progress.

    1. I'm partial to lily-of-the-valley as well -- my mom always put some in a small vase for my May birthday. Haven't grown an amaryllis for years, but they're wonderful in these dark weeks.

  7. A couple of blue hyacinths have bloomed indoors and I'll be setting them outside later. How lovely to keep an eye on the muscari as they emerge. We're away for a week or so but after we return I'm hoping to get some more bulbs or plants (primulas, perhaps) to enjoy indoors and then plant out.
    I'd love to see the complete reading list of Paris-inspired fiction and non-fiction. And thank you for the film recommendation.
    Have a wonderful weekend! Stay dry in the pineapple express.

    1. Primulas are so cheery. See the films I listed for Hostess above -- have you watched any of these yet?

  8. I love hyacinths indoors. Their sweet smell really brings spring closer. And then I plant them out in the garden afterwards. Many don't survive our cold damp clay but some pop up as fragrant surprises every year. Always cheering.


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