March Madness and April Showers

The past month has been one of some introspection. This post was written over the Easter weekend. On the Saturday I went to the Kitchener Farmer’s Market. When I first came to this dorpie (the Afrikaans word for a small town), I used to go every Saturday. I now manage with a visit every two weeks, the advantage of having a huge freezer (which came with the apartment, by the way) is manifest.

I have a very predictable route. I park in the underground area, go up to the level where the stalls are, and then follow a strict path. The first person I visit is Pat from Hamilton. He sells a range of olives and pickled vegetables. In my opinion his most interesting product is the olives stuffed with garlic. They are a real assault on the taste buds. We have got to know each other over the years and so first names are used. From there it’s a quick turnaround and across the aisle to the egg stand. This is run by an older couple who do not seem to have much of a sense of humour. I have yet to see them smile. If you can visualise the famous painting ‘American Gothic’ you will get the picture.

I then go to the fishmongers, right next to the butcher I use. Interestingly enough on Saturday they had none of the fish varieties that I would choose, they said their suppliers were out of stock. The fish I enjoy most when I am in Geneva, or indeed anywhere in Switzerland, is something called filet de lac, literally fish of the lake. I believe that this is caught in one of the great Lakes and now flown from Canada to Switzerland. I tried to buy a couple of different varieties to make an interesting fish stew.

The butcher is next. Their meat is an organic, and is really excellent. They make a wide range of sausages, from chorizo to cheddar and spinach. Of course this meat feast really comes into its own when the barbecue is available on the roof of the building, and we gather to braai. From there I buy a small pot of hummus, then go round the corner to the bread shop. They have an excellent selection, but none of the dark Russian style bread that I remember so well from Ukraine.

Of course if one is going to have bread then cheese is a must. There are a number of cheese stalls, my favourite of which has a wide range of cheeses, plus they sell milk and butter, which makes it a one stop shop. From there I will generally get some fruit and vegetables and buy mushrooms. Once the marketing is over I returned to the apartment and have a cooked breakfast. The only day of the week that I do this. I am quite pleased with my ability to use everything I buy. I really hate wasting things, and that is one of the reasons why the week tends to end with a soup.

A couple of weeks ago Rowan introduced me to the idea of a ‘Bullet Journal’, it seems like an excellent way of organising one’s thoughts and days. I have done all the preparation work, filling in tasks lists, drawing up the future appointments and getting everything in place. Now I need to use it, and this is when I realise that I am not as organised as I thought. I will keep you posted on this because it does seem to be an excellent way of ordering one’s life. I have about three articles that need to be written, one of the realities is that I keep forgetting about them and their relative importance. I also need to plan my travel for the rest of the year and this will be a useful way of doing it. I will write at length about Waterford towards the middle of the year. I give up my Governing Council role at Waterford at the July meeting. That is going to be strange since I have been involved with the school in various capacities since 1983. The Bullet Journal reminds me that this is looming.

I have been going to yoga a bit more regularly. Last week I went to see my local doctor as I decided my blood pressure was probably way too high. When it was taken it turned out to be a little bit raised but not catastrophically. I was quite taken aback. Perhaps the yoga is having an effect, certainly going to the gym is good for me but I didn’t think it was that great. The gym in my block of flats has a small amount of equipment, everything I need. However there is rarely anybody else in it, and it feels a little lonely.

On Easter Sunday I went to church. Raja and Sarah Stone are a fascinating couple I have met in Waterloo. He is a preacher in a local Community Church which meets in the Princess Cinema on a Sunday morning. They have, as they say, ‘planted’ a new church in the nearby village of Wellesley, about a 20 minute drive from the apartment. It was a beautifully sunny day and so driving out into the countryside was a real pleasure. It is still a very cold and the trees have yet to produce anything resembling green, indeed there were a few patches of snow on the ground. Despite this the sun is warm and there is the promise of spring and summer. When I sit and gaze out of the window, I can see the neighbourhood’s squirrels getting ever more frenetic as they dash around the back gardens. Clearly they believe the weather is about to change.

The church they are using is quite a new one, and it does make me wonder about what denomination or faith group had it before. It was reasonably full although not packed. As is the situation with all the new churches I have been to over the past few years, (and they really have not been that many), there was a band with guitars and drums leading the singing. I don’t know the hymns that are being sung in these churches, which immediately takes away one of the major reasons for attending. Having said that, his sermon was good, and thought-provoking.

Sarah is the person who drives our salon series of discussions. She works as a nurse at the major local hospital, so is always keen on issues related to health. A week ago we had James Orbinski come in for the evening. He and his wife Rolie live in Guelph. The discussion was excellent. James is a medical doctor who was a colleague at the Balsillie school, and is now heading up a unit in the area of global health at the University of York. I very much miss his presence, he was one of the few people who spent time in the building. They were kind enough to invite me out for dinner, about a 40 minute drive under normal circumstances, unfortunately there are major roadworks going on, and so it took somewhat longer, and I don’t know the area well enough to use backroads.

Waterloo has a new restaurant. Loloan focuses on Southeast Asian cuisine and is probably one of the three most expensive restaurants in the town, not that that means it costs all that much. Food is reasonable and very good, it is the drinks that are pricey. We have been looking forward to its opening for some months now and having been there a few times I am very impressed. My birthday meal was a low key event at an Indian restaurant nearby. There were six of us present and the food was excellent. I have also used them as a source of takeaways, although the last time we did this, despite repeated reminders, the food was not ready as promised.

Such is the new minutiae of life in this little dorpie in South West Ontario. I keep reminding myself that Toronto is only an hour and a half away by car or train although the trains are few and far between.

Books

Richard Wagamese, Ragged Company, Anchor Canada 2008, 326 pages. This book was very kindly given to me by someone I had met at Simon Dalby’s house. We had had an extensive discussion about books and particularly Canadian authors. She remembered it and brought this moving book for me. The author was an Ojibway from Northern Ontario. He writes of a group of homeless people who decide to go to the cinema to stay warm. They meet a journalist and start hanging out together. They find a winning lottery ticket with a $13.5 million jackpot. The story goes on from there, talking about how this affects them and their lives. I’m not going to spoil it for anyone who has not read it. I did not want it to end.

I mentioned in my last blog that I was watching The Crown, on Netflix. I have finally finished, and had great difficulty in getting through the part when Charles is sent to Gordonstoun. It really made me aware of how brutal that education was.

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