Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Another Story About Life in the City

We all could use a wee distraction from the world news, so here's another in my ongoing series of quick hit stories from the downtown streets of my hometown.

The Husband and I made our way over to the local grocery store on Saturday morning. (I hope you all saw the fabulous picture of him shlepping our new bundle buggy. If not, I'll re-post it at the end of this missive so that we can all chuckle together.) I will admit that during the summer we have tended to avoid the big name stores only because the fresh produce is so much nicer at the local farmer's markets and we tend to buy the staples we require at smaller, independent stores. But this week, I needed far more than we could buy at those outlets, so we walked the three blocks up to our local Loblaw.

If you happen to live in Toronto and haven't visited the Loblaw on Queen at Bathurst, you really should. It absolutely caters to the downtown crowd, but it is also a wonderful cornucopia of fresh baked smells, cheeses, pastries, and other truly "off-limits but I wish I could indulge" items for me. It also has a small section near the front where parents who are shopping with small children can take a piece of fresh fruit like a banana or a cluster of grapes for free in order to satisfy their kids. As such, the store also attracts its share of street people in search of a bite and the store seems more than willing to help these folks out. I met up with one such woman on Saturday.

As I was searching through the dairy case for butter, this very chatty dame sauntered up to me and said in a truly concerned voice,

Her: "You must really like butter."

I will admit that the four bricks I had in my hands probably set off her alarm bells.

Me: "Not really. I just have quite a bit of baking to do this week and I need the butter."

Her: "Salted or unsalted?"

I should have walked away at that point, but I will admit that my curiousity got the better of me.

Me: "Both. It really does depend on the cookies and the recipe."

Her: (In a most unequivocal and strident manner) "Unsalted. It needs to be unsalted. You need to watch your blood pressure. If you're not careful, all that salt...you could die of a heart attack."

I thanked her for her concern and started back to rejoin The Husband when she called after me.

"Remember what I said. You need to stay healthy."

At the check-out counter, the young man helping us noticed that The Husband had purchased those very wicked and brand new caramel M&Ms. (When we have a bundle buggy to help us carry stuff, we are both far more prone to buy junk food.) This interesting dude proceeded to give me a lesson on the proper way to eat this magnificent candy.

"You need to suck them. You see there is far less shell on the outside and a much thinner layer of chocolate. Suck them and get to the caramel centre. You will not be disappointed."

I smiled, told him that's exactly how I eat them, thanked him for his help and handed him my VISA card. The look of joy on his face was priceless.

As we left the store I realized that this shopping experience was a far cry from the rudeness I used to encounter in the North Jewish Ghetto or even the shithole that is Publix on Hallandale Beach Boulevard in South Florida. These two souls were very concerned with me and my eating experience. But it also occurred to me that if anybody is ragingly pissed off at me for my last couple of posts, you can rest assured that I will probably die of a salted butter induced heart attack while blissfully sucking on caramel M&Ms.

Just like my new friends at Loblaw on Queen told me.

Check out The Husband and his rocking new bundle buggy. 

Sunday, 13 August 2017

I'm Done!

If you voted for this...

Make no mistake about it. You also voted for and gave your approval for this...

 And this...

 And this...

 And this...

 And this...

There is no middle ground here. There can be no false moral relativism that exists here between left and right; between liberal and conservative; between Democrat and Republican. This was pure evil on display and it was done with a wink and nod from the Oval Office. These people were shouting "Heil Trump." They were chanting "Blood and Soil," a fundamental ideology of the Third Reich. They used "Jews will not replace us" as their rallying cry. They yelled, “The heat here is nothing compared to what you’re going to get in the ovens.” And they did it all knowing that the man you voted for was in their corner, on their side.

When you voted for that man, you explicitly consented to his hate and racism. You purposefully went blind, deaf, and mute to his dog whistles, his bigotry, and his xenophobia. You allied yourself with birtherism, anti-Semitism, white supremacy, and racialism. You aligned yourself with the likes of David Duke, the former imperial wizard of the KKK.
By voting for that man, you trampled on and spit upon the souls of my relatives murdered at Auschwitz. By voting for that man, you mocked the memory of Dr. King. By voting for that man, you betrayed your neighbours, your fellow citizens, and perhaps even a few friends.

When you voted for that man, you weren't voting for him...

 Or him...

 Or Saint him...

 Or even them.

While you and I could debate and probably vehemently disagree about the policies or political philosophies of these men, I would never have doubted for one second that while I thought them tremendously misguided, they had the best of intentions or wanted what was best for their country and the rest of the world. I would never have called them inherently evil.

Yesterday, we witnessed evil. Three innocent people lost their lives to evil. My cousins had to temporarily leave their home in Charlottesville because evil came knocking at their front door. And the man you voted for has refused to denounce it or distance himself from that which he had fomented and wrought.

So...I'm done. I'm done with you using his Jewish daughter and grandchildren as shields. I'm done with you excusing his words and incoherence as harmless rhetoric. I'm done with you telling me about her emails and how she would have been worse. I'm done with you pretending that your hatred for the last man in that office wasn't partly about the colour of his skin.

I'm done.

Because when you voted for that man...

You voted for all that was unleashed yesterday. It's on you.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

I'm Planning a Party...It Seems Like You're All Invited

I honestly thought of writing a post today filled with fear, angst, and terror, because if I'm being even a wee bit honest with you all and myself, fear, angst, and terror are what I am feeling today. But instead of wallowing in the "what ifs" and "wherefores" I decided to plan the going away party. For those of you reading and thinking "this is in extremely poor taste," I need to reassure you that I am in no way making light of what I view as an extremely serious and dangerous situation, but rather I need the distraction of anything that will keep my hands from shaking and will make the nightmares cease when I attempt to close my eyes. So instead we have...

A Party Plan for The End of The World As We Know It (With sincere apologies to R.E.M. for plagiarizing their words.)

I want my family here. All of them. I don't care where they think they need to be. They need to be here. As one. Together.

When the end comes I want cake. Not just any cake. It needs to be double-layered chocolate blackout cake with chocolate buttercream frosting. Calories? Who the fuck cares! Lactose intolerance can damn well just eat me up from the inside out. I'll fart it out like there's no tomorrow...because there isn't one! And there needs to be pie. Fruit pies. Lots of them. My Lil Bro's apple pie is an absolute must. Nobody should ever plan to leave this earth unless they have experienced my brother's apple pie. It is perfection in a pan.

There will be alcohol. Lots of it. Anesthesia is a necessity from this reality. And...I really want to try pot at least once before I leave this earth. (You can debate that bit of quality information quietly amongst yourselves.)

There needs to be music. Only the best voices and the best players allowed. Nothing canned or electronic. I refuse to leave this world listening to shitty American Idol or The Voice mashups.

I will Not be wearing a bra. I will leave this world the same way I came in. Free, easy, and unconstricted.

Laughter is a must. We will have a seemingly endless stream of Marx Brothers, Danny Kaye, Robin Williams, and Mel Brooks movies on hand. Peter Sellers' Clouseau (WTF was Steve Martin thinking in trying to remake that? It's like a paint by numbers version of the Mona Lisa!) is a moral imperative as are Nora Ephron movies. I just love the way she wrote.

I really hope it happens in summer. Winter followed by a nuclear winter seems so needlessly repetitive and gauche.

I want flowers. No lilies. Too maudlin and I am highly allergic. I don't want it written somewhere in the fallout that she departed this earth covered in hives. Roses. Gerber daisies. Hydrangeas. Sunflowers. Anything to remind us of colour and light.

I want photographs. I want to be surrounded by albums. Not phone screens. Actual printed out photos. I want to see my aunt's face again. And my bubby's. And my father-in-law's. I don't tend to believe in an afterlife so I want those visuals with me one last time.

I hope that we will be granted a sunset and maybe even a rainbow. I want to remember that somewhere out there, there may be a couple of assholes who control the finale of this world, but they didn't create it. Something bigger and better did that.

And finally....With my last breath I want to scream at all of you out there who voted to put the fate of the entire planet into the hands of an amoral, sociopathic, truly unstable madman simply because you couldn't see past your own self-interest, your own hateful racism, your own misogyny, or even because of (horror of horrors) her emails.....


**Time and date of the festivities are still to be determined. Let's hope that we have to cancel.

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Things I Never Thought We'd Say Until We Moved Downtown

The Husband and I are coming up to our moving anniversary. One year ago this week we made the long and arduous trek from the North Jewish Ghetto to our current digs in the city core. Those of you who have followed this space on an even semi-regular basis had front row seats to my angst, emotional trauma, and naked fear as we prepared to leave our life-long suburban confines in order to begin anew as cosmopolitan urbanites. It was a complex cocktail of emotions ranging from exhaustion to exhilaration mixed in with a healthy dose of sadness and topped off with a heaping teaspoon of excitement. There was so much that was unfamiliar and so much to learn, but we embraced our neophyte status with gusto and anticipation.

And now...after almost a year...I can confidently say that we are finally settled. I have a new pharmacy, bank machine, grocery store, and dry cleaners. I still have a few things for which I safari north, not the least of which are dear family and friends, but for the most part, we have constructed a comfortable and no longer strange daily norm for ourselves, all while exploring parts of our hometown that we really never knew existed.

As I have thought back on this year, I have compiled for you all a few memories and thoughts that I still can't believe occurred. These things really happened and the statements forthwith are as true and verifiable as they can possibly be coming from a middle-aged mind. All names have been changed to protect the guilty and supremely embarrassed. Let's just file these under the heading Things I never thought we'd say until we moved downtown.

Him: Wow. Did you hear that?
Her:  Yeah. What the fuck was that?
Him: A cannon.
Her: A what?
Him: A cannon. They use it to mark noon at Fort York. Isn't it cool?
Her: This is 2017. I think we can dispense with in-city cannon-fire and start using a clock. 

Him: I can't believe how much I like riding the streetcar
Her: Even when the passengers smell like headcheese?

Him: The sounds of the city are amazing. They have a real rhythm and a pulse.
Her: Unlike the guy who was stabbed last night across the street.

Her: Maybe I'll buy a bike helmet.
Him: Are you seriously considering riding a bike?
Her: I'm not sure yet. Do you think people will be upset if I ride on the sidewalk?
Him: You're not buying a bike helmet.

Him: I think we should go to the Ex this year.
Her: (pulling her chin off the floor) Really? We haven't been in twenty years.
Him: Yup. We can walk over. Besides you love that Food Network show Carnival Eats. We can marvel at the weird concoctions.
Her: We'll have to walk. I'm gaining weight just thinking about it.

Him: I went to buy bread at that amazing looking bakery across the street and they laughed at me when I asked them to slice it. Apparently, that just isn't done down here. It will "ruin" the elasticity. Who knew?

Him: The guy at the convenience store keeps treats under the counter for visiting dogs.
Her: That's cool. Does this mean we can get a dog?
Him: 🙄

Her: Tell me again which way Richmond and Adelaide run?
Him: We've lived here almost a year. Are you ever going to get it right?
Her: (the next day) Tell me again which way Richmond and Adelaide run?

Her: Hydroponic herb-growing is kind of awesome.
Him: Honestly, that's a phrase I never thought I'd hear from you. Ever.

Him: I just realized that you can see into our bedroom from a corner of the rooftop garden.
Her: I just realized why we have blackout blinds in there.

Her: I swear that everything in this fucking condo was designed for Andre the Giant.
Him: Not really. They just never thought it might be inhabited by the Queen of the Lollipop Guild.

Her: I think we need to buy a bundle buggy for shopping
Him: We're not doing that. Old people do that. We can carry everything we need. We'll look ridiculous.

Her: (a few months later) That cauliflower looks amazing. Let's buy it.
Him: We can't. It's too big and we can't carry it. I guess we'll have to give up purchasing the chocolate covered raisins, bags of chips, and ice cream if you have your heart set on the cauliflower.
Her: Or...we could buy a bundle buggy?
Him: Only if you're the one pulling it. I'll look like an old man.

Her: (later still) I just dropped three dozen bagels on the ground at What-a Bagel
Him: (choking back the laughter and tears) How? Whaaat?
Her: I was trying to look like a cool urbanite and not use plastic bags and the steam from the hot bagels caused the paper bags to disintegrate. I looked like a dotty old lady scurrying around on the floor trying to recover three dozen bagels.
Him: This wouldn't have happened if you had a bundle buggy. 
Her: 😠

Her: I think we've both lost weight since we moved. We are definitely exercising more and walking everywhere. That's a good thing.
Him: And our shopping habits have changed. Because we haven't bought a bundle buggy, we are more careful with our groceries. We can't carry the junk so we simply don't buy it.
Her: True. And we are carrying several kilograms of stuff every time we walk. 
Him: See...we don't need a bundle buggy.

Her: (last week) I love St. Lawrence Market on a summer Saturday.
Him: Yup. This is why we moved. I love the energy and the people.
Her: Look at the beautiful peaches just in from Niagara. A basket is only six bucks.
Him: Do you realize how heavy they are? And you made me buy that bottle of barbeque sauce for your mother and now you want me to shlep peaches? We still have a 5K walk home!!
Her: Bundle buggy?
Him: Fine!
Her: (Ordered today)

Happy urban-versary to my honey. May we have many more years like this last one.