Friday, 31 October 2014


It is now 9:45 PM on Friday, October 31, 2014. I live in an apartment building where there are very few children so - during the 18 years that I have lived here - I have never had a 'Treat or Trickster' come to my door. However - my mind is full of memories of when I was young when Alda and I (accompanied by Mom or Dad) went around the neighborhood wearing costumes and masks, approaching doors, and calling out 'Trick or Treat!' and hoping for yummy items to be placed in the sacks which we carried.

Mom always had a cache of 'Hallowe'en candies' to give to the children who came to our door so - naturally - we expected the same to be given to us at the doors which we approached. I have only a vague memory of Hallowe'en in Ruskin but I believe that we visited a few houses when we lived on River Road across from the Ruskin Public School.

When we moved to Dawes Hill in Coquitlam we found ourselves in a more populous neighborhood and - therefore - a bigger 'haul'. Also - I remember a situation where we children were actually 'two-faced' in the fact we were rather disdainful of the Dolbec family but - because Mme Dolbec always made incredible fudge - we made sure that we stopped there.

The sacks which we carried were pillow cases and we always returned home with a nice haul of sweets and fruit like apples. As that was in a mild, wet climate our costumes, masks and 'gooddies sack' were quite damp by the time that we made it back home.

I do not recall what the  costumes were (that we wore) but it was always something that Mom could put together at home. However, the masks came from one of the '5 and 10 cent' stores in New Westminster and - by the time we returned home - mine was always damp around my lips, smelled strongly of the material that had gone into the manufacture and - sometimes - the coloring in the design had leached and stained our faces. We did not have a shower in the house in those days so that meant a good scrubbing by Mom as each of us leaned over the kitchen sink.

Not all the goodies which we received were candies/sweets but did sometimes include other 'practical' items. This was nearing the end of World War II and some of the neighbors purchased 'tickets' which we could exchange for small toys or candies at the special UNICEF gathering at the arena in town. Of all of the neighbors which we had only one lady bought these 'tickets' which became her donation to our sacks instead of candies or fruit. As an adult I appreciate the need for supporting this charity but - as a child - I (and most of my buddies) felt cheated by finding them in the sack instead of candy, fruit or coins!  

As an adult I do not recall having attended a costume party of any sort - in honor of Hallowe'en - while still a child. I am not sure if I would have enjoyed it anyway!

Of all the costume material around Hallowe'en I remember the masks best. As I said near the beginning of this blog, when I arrived back home my mask smelled of chemicals and whatever had been used in the coloring leached somewhat.

Hallowe'en was fun - except for the masks! Of course - this is my opinion and not necessarily the opinion of anybody else!

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Farmer's Market

The day before yesterday I walked down University Avenue to an office supply business in order to purchase a packet of labels. My walk took me past the Toronto General Hospital and the Hospital for Sick Children ('Sick Kids') which has a curved driveway with an entrance to the north at Gerrard Street and the exit to the south at the corner of University Avenue and Elm Street. The arc created by that driveway was lined with booths set up by farmers on which they were displaying the produce from their properties.

A few blocks further along University is City Hall and the enormous Nathan Phillip Square the east side of which is yet another Farmers' Market area. The supermarkets near there have their own display of fruit and vegetables but the 'authentic farm displays' seem to be more popular.
New Westminster, B.C. is the hub for those living in neighboring municipalities - including farmers out in the Fraser Valley and south of New West in the municipalities of Langley, Surrey and Delta. Therefore there is a Farmer's Market in New Westminster. The main business street for the city is Columbia and the secondary route down along the north bank of the Fraser River is Front Street. As  one proceeds east along Columbia the street rises and - four blocks later - it is along a bank high above the river. Many many years ago the Framers Market was built along the side of that 'cliff' with public access being down along Front Street.

Much earlier in these blogs I mentioned the eccentric bachelor - Harold Escott - who lived in a shack in the forest and who had permission to pick flowers from Harold Crewdson's flower gardens. These he took to that market every Friday where he earned some pocket money by selling them.

As we did not own an automobile in those days we relied upon the General Store in Maillardville  (and later upon a man who owned a truck which was specially outfitted for the transport of groceries, produce and fresh meat) so we did not patronize the Farmers' Market in New Westminster for our supplies. It wasn't until I was in my teens that I finally got to go to that market.

Since then I have been in others - including the one here in Toronto - but rarely patronize it - the supermarket across the street from here is much handier! Although I am very much attracted to the baked goods and the preserves at these markets which I am too lazy to make myself!

Tuesday, 14 October 2014


In Canada we celebrate Thanksgiving on the second Monday in the month of October. Our American neighbors (being further to the south and - therefore - warmer) celebrate the holiday on the fourth Thursday in November.

At the Metropolitan Community Church here in Toronto we celebrate Thanksgiving (as well as Christmas) with a huge 'potluck' dinner in our cavernous Social Hall. Recently the church board hired a new Assistant Pastor ( the Rev. Kevin Downer - an American and a delightful man). As a newcomer to us - and to Canada - he is prone to making gaffes at which we laugh heartily.

As the Rev Dr Brent Hawkes -  our Senior Pastor - had other commitments it was left to Kevin to be our 'host'. When it came time for speeches he got up on the stage and took over. He tried to give a history of our Canadian Thanksgiving but committed some errors much to the amusement of the rest of us.

In the Saturday edition of the Toronto Star there was an article about the history of our Canadian celebration of Thanksgiving. Whereas our American cousins know that the initial Thanksgiving was celebrated at Plymouth Rock (in Massachusetts?) where the pilgrims were thanking God for a safe passage across the Atlantic Ocean.

The article in the Toronto Star enumerated a number of events in Canadian history that could have given rise to our autumnal celebration. However - it is understood that the initial celebration was arranged by Captain John Frobisher who explored much of the Arctic Ocean including an inlet found along the southern shore of Baffin Island which is now named Frobisher Sound. This is quite a lengthy inlet bounded on both sides by high banks - cliffs? - where it would be easy for a small vessel to become trapped by a sudden deep freeze so Frobisher was grateful for a safe voyage.

Kevin is a delightful man and - as he is a relatively newcomer among us - he does get local (and historical) information wrong. He was not accurate in relating the details of Frobisher's exploration and got the facts mixed up much to the amusement of the rest of us.

I am adding a photo taken in the Social Hall yesterday afternoon. The huge crowd shown is only a part of the throng which came with their offerings of food and there was more than enough to go around.

The Social Hall at MCCT yesterday afternoon (October 13, 2014).  You will note the woman - Jan - seated in the motorized wheelchair to the right of the tables and - if you look into the crowd in the direction of Jan's gaze - I am the second person from that end of the row. This is merely a portion of the crowd as people kept arriving right up until the end of the event and extra tables were set up where ever there was space for one.

Naturally - there was turkey on the menu (with cranberry sauce), mashed potatoes, vegetables and stuffing and gravy. This was followed by a wide assortment of dessert items. While I did not notice any pumpkin pies I am sure that there were some.

I did not linger long after I had consumed my meal but returned home on the transit to be greeted by Toby who is always thankful to see me return.  

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Water Mains, Parking Driveway and New Windows

Nobody ever said that living in a growing city is a quiet and peaceful place to be!

Out front of here is the busy intersection of Bay Street and Charles Street West. Travel east another block is Yonge Street Toronto's main north/south thoroughfare - and one more block brings you to Church Street and the Gay Village.

I am guessing that all of the major streets have water mains buried beneath them. A number of months ago the water main buried beneath Church Street sprang a leak just south of the Church/Wellesley intersection and early on Sunday morning, Water coursed down the thoroughfare flooding all the businesses on that side of the street which included a few restaurants that are normally very busy during the brunch hours on Saturday and Sunday (including the one which I usually patronize). What a mess!

Church Street south of Wellesley. The flooded restaurants extended from the shorter of the two buildings south of Welesley Street.

City workers came to shut off the flow and to patch up the damage. This spring I noticed equipment had arrived and I assumed that the repairs/replacement would occur before World Pride at the end of June.

Not so! Early this summer I began to see pipes and other equipment left at the curb. Finally - a couple of weeks ago - work began. Only the water main down Church Street was not the only one prepared for repairs - there is a water main below Charles Street too and it is being replaced all the way west to Queens Park (a long block west of here). Naturally this led to short detours and temporary 'bridges' along that route. When it came to bringing the new water main across Bay Street that was done during a night. I like sleeping with the patio sliding doors open so fresh air can come in - but not that night!

The two buildings in this complex. The ramp down to the underground garage is from the north with the exit on St Mary Street (this side). At present the St Mary Street ramp serves as both the entry and the exit.  Also - the windows being changed are in the taller of the two towers.

The intersection of Bay Street at Charles Street West. The new water main came across there.

Beneath these two buildings (this one and the neighboring tower) is a three level underground garage to which the ramp is being replaced. The entry ramp is off of Charles Street at the other end of this building. Jackhammers were  used to break up the original concrete and the noise was deafening. Toby loves to go out onto the balcony but he flatly refused to go there while the racket was continuing! I don't blame him - and I am grateful for the double glass doors which helped me to keep most of the racket outside.

The building in which I am living is 20 stories high and it is a long one with thirteen apartments on each floor. The second building - which sits slightly southeast of this one - is more than 30 stories high with no more than five or six units per floor.

While both of these buildings were erected by the same contractor they are owned by separate consortiums (rumor has it that the units in the other building are being converted to condominiums one unit at a time - there are only five or six on each floor). Commencing a number of months ago the management of the other building decided to replace all of the windows. In order to do so a modern 'forklift' is being used and there are two rather unpleasant characteristics to this piece of equipment.

It is parked just across the walkway from my apartment so - when the ignition is turned on in the morning - I am awakened by the roar and before I need to arise. Also, the machine is run on diesel fuel so there is a stench in the air.

The joys of living in a 'nice and quiet' area of the city! 

Saturday, 4 October 2014


As I have mentioned before, a friend has two tickets for every production of the Canadian Opera Company and also - as a season ticket holder - he has the privilege of exchanging tickets whenever another commitment interferes with his attending a specific performance. Last evening was the opening night for Verdi's "Falstaff" and - as Ian has another commitment on the his usual opera night - our seats were not the usual ones.

Ian's regular seats are in the front row of the second tier. I have been accompanying him to the opera for a number of years now and he has had to change the seats on other occasions. Usually the seats that were offered to him were on the right hand side of that tier - a little further from the stage  but not at all awkward. The seats last evening were awkward - at least for me they were!

The balcony tiers extend on each side right up to the stage curtain and that was where these seats were located. Nor did we sit side-by-side but he in front and my seat initially was behind a light pole. I could see past that pole and had a view of all of the stage but not in a direct line. If there was any action to the extreme right I would have to lean to my left to see around the pole which - from my perspective - meant that I would have to lean over some of the other patrons who were seated on the main floor and below me. That was well outside my comfort level. However - as the curtain was rising - Ian reappeared to say that the person whose seat was in front of his (on the other side of the light pole)  was a 'no show' so I would be able to occupy that seat. I was greatly relieved!

The first ten or so seats out from the curtain were singles so - instead of sitting beside Ian I was seated in front of him. In front of me was a young married couple (the husband first and then the wife) and I could tell by her outfit that they were Muslims. As the vast majority of the patrons seen at the opera are Caucasian, Black or Oriental this surprised me. Did they enjoy the madcap performance? They most certainly did - as did we and all the other patrons seated near us.

black is a member of the Canadian Opera Company so he has permission to take his guests into the Members Lounge before the performance and during the intermissions. A few times in the past I have encountered people whom I knew in that lounge - a former neighbor, other people whom I know about the city - as well as the hematologist that I had to see regularly over a number of months. That man has a delightful sense of humor and his wife is a delight as well. Since it is the Opera I always wear my suit and tie but black always wears leather pants, a leather vest with a black t-shirt underneath and knee high black riding boots. To say that he receives startled looks from other patrons is an understatement!

Both of us are conversationalists so we enjoy each others company - especially while we are enjoying our dinner in a Jewish 'deli' which is located in the neighboring hotel.

Always I have been an inveterate 'people watcher' so I notice many of the other patrons. Occasionally  I see somebody I know but - usually - everybody else is a complete stranger to me.

For any uninitiated readers,  "Falstaff" is a 'take off' on Shakespeare's "Merry Wives of Windsor"  and it is a hoot! Many people who are alive today consider the 21st Century as a time of 'loose morals' but society today cannot hold a candle to Shakespeare's time with wife swapping (husband swapping too!) and all sorts of other 'immoral shenanigans' occurring. One laugh followed upon the heels of another!