On The Road Again

The wife, daughter and I very much enjoyed the food and the treatment we got at the luncheon in my recent post, Sugar Beets Boredom.  The presentation was to begin at 11:30 AM, with lunch at noon, and done by 1:00, but….the guests couldn’t all be wrangled into the dining room, the speeches ran long, there were more questions than anticipated.

Unfortunately, this was also the day I had to take my daughter an hour up the highway for medical treatment.  We were to be there by 2:20 PM.  Skipping a delicious dessert and coffee, we bailed at 1:15, dropped the wife at home on the way out of town, and headed for the highway.  With a mile left to go, we were stopped at a crossroad by police.

Not only is the International Plowing Match being held right beside the interchange, but today’s the day the Prime Minister is visiting.  We can’t get through!  All we have to do is go a mile and a quarter in the wrong direction, drive up a county road and then back to the on-ramp from the other side.  We made the hospital appointment, barely.  In the city, or out in the country, you still can’t get there from here.

A plowing match!  Yeehaw!  How bucolic.  In Southern Ontario, in late September, what could possibly go wrong??!  Other than eight successive days of rain?  Aside from our handsome Prime Minister, (Nope! I just couldn’t write that, and live with myself.) we had the Queen of the Furrow in a short little skirt and knee-length rubber boots because of mud up to your John Deere’s hubs.  There was a pole climbing contest like a lumberjack meet.  There were dancing tractors, like the Mounties on horseback, only in diesel.  The soft glow on the horizon was from all the red necks.

A week later, the three of us went to the beautiful town of St. Marys, Ontario.  I’m still old-school.  I don’t shower much.  I prefer a nice hot soaking bath.  I’m a macho he-man kind of guy, so I don’t use bubble bath.  I put in fragranced bath gel.  There’s an important difference….to my ego!

We used to be able to buy it by the gallon from the distributor in Mississauga, when we went to the wife’s rheumatologist in Brampton, but they moved the warehouse to Barrie.  There is a candle supply shop in St. Marys which carries the gel, and the wife and daughter wanted to stock up on wicks, tabs, holders and beeswax for candle-making, so off we went.

We drove out to Stratford, and turned left, and that was the first problem.  Stratford is just on the edge of Mennonite country.  Its streets aren’t quite as convoluted as K/W’s, but some still manage to run together at strange angles.  Making left turns at two successive traffic lights just didn’t seem to make sense, so we enjoyed two and a half miles of pastoral scenery in the wrong direction, before I turned around.

We got to the store and home safely.  When I checked Map Quest, for the distance from home to the store (it’s 63 Kilometers!  If you don’t get lost.  Thanks for asking.), it suggested a totally different route which would eliminate driving through Stratford entirely.

Stratford is the hometown of Justin Bieber, and I apologise profusely.  As I said, it’s the edge of the Mennonite Tract, and with the name of Bieber, he didn’t know he had German ancestry.  He claims he has enough native Indian blood to get free gasoline.  He must be huffing it, because even full-blood Indians don’t get it free.

Instead of YouTube and Bieber, I offer you Canada’s first, and still best, Shakespearean Theater and Festival, and the handsome Canadian actor, Paul Gross.  I attended Stratford’s Theater as a youngster in a school group. The main theater opened in 1953.  I saw As You Like It, in the early summer of 1959.  I’ve been to a few plays over the years.  There are now four theaters.  While they concentrate on Shakespeare, they also present plays by other playwrights such as George Bernard Shaw.

Paul Gross played a Dudley Do-Right type Mountie, bureaucratically stranded in Chicago, and assisting the Chicago police department, for three years, in the television series Due North.  He was Canada’s highest-paid TV actor, making two million dollars a year.

After the program was cancelled, he went on to produce and star in a movie called Men With Brooms, about BrainRants’ favorite sport, curling.  About ten years ago, just before my employer fell out from under me, I got a chance for the wife and me to see him on the Shakespeare stage as Hamlet.  Unlike his previous light comedy, he rendered the brooding Dane quite well.

The next time we have to go to get candle supplies or bubble bath bath-gel, I think I’ll take the route Map Quest suggests.  It will take us through the small town of Tavistock, well-known for the Tavistock Cheese makers.  A half a mile above the highway is the tiny crossroads village of Sebastopol.  I’d never heard of it, but apparently it has a huge, famous, Lutheran church.  It’s just down the road from another Mennonite cross-road village called Punky-Doodles Corners, named by a drunken farmer newly arrived two hundred years ago, from Pennsylvania, trying and failing, to sing about Yankee Doodle.

Advertisements

Multicultural Festival

The family all had a big, interesting, informative day on Saturday.  The son worked all night, and stopped off at the downtown Kitchener market to pick up some eggs and bread.  The social engineers have pretty much ruined, what used to be a great experience.

The market used to be inside a warehouse-type building and outside, in what was a parking lot during the week.  The city could only realize income for two days a week on this building, so they sold it to a developer, and moved the market to the bottom level and meeting room of a new parking garage.

After twenty years, their contract with the owner ran out, and the space was required for parking for a 24/7 call center.  They designed and built a new market building, a couple of blocks down the street.  This monstrosity has all the glamour of an airplane hangar, and they are having trouble getting shoppers to come, and vendors to stay.  The number of parking spaces, underground, is limited, and auto paint and scrapes on almost every concrete pillar, indicate why people won’t come back.

The son got home about ten to eight and turned the car over to us.  We picked the daughter up and headed for the (Mennonite) farmers’ market at the northern edge of our twin city.  With acres of parking and outdoor vendors, this market has thrived, partly from the failure of the downtown market.  We bought some fresh meat and produce, had coffee and doughnuts, and then hit a half a dozen stores in that area, dropped the daughter and her stuff off, and were home just before two.

Kitchener holds a yearly multicultural festival, and we all wanted to attend.  They started it on the July First weekend, but that is Canada Day, a holiday, and many people wanted to go camping, or to a cottage, so they moved it back to the weekend before.  The son was supposed to have gone to bed early and got a few hours sleep, but he was up when we got home.  Nothing unusual in that.  The wife and I went to bed after three AM and were back up at seven.

The festival is held in a big park, right downtown.  It’s three blocks by three blocks, with streams and a lake with fish and wildfowl.  I dropped the wife and her crutches, along with the son, at the front gate.  You couldn’t get a parking spot within a half mile, with a gun, and they are frowned on.  A city trail, which used to be a railroad line, runs through the back end of it.  The daughter lives just off that trail, three blocks away.  I drove to her place, parked, and the two of us returned, her on her power wheelchair.

The City probably intends it as a social bonding and cultural acceptance exercise, but the unifying force I see among the licensed attendees, is commerce and capitalism.  It’s almost amusing to see a meditating Buddhist monk, hoping you’ll pay money to learn how he achieves Nirvana.  With your money, that’s how!

Many local ethnic groups set up food tents, so that you can sample their cuisine.  They use the profits to finance various groups and projects.  At the front of the park was the city’s tent, handing out information and site maps.  Then there were two mobile ATMs and, down both sides of the field were food tents representing Pakistani, Indian/Sri Lankan, Jamaican, Filipino, Turkish, Ethiopian, Zambia/Tanzanian, Vietnamese, Salvadoran, Greek Cypriot, Turkish Cypriot, Chinese, The Islamic Council, Muslim Women and Vietnamese Buddhists.  I started with a Gyro plate from the Turkish tent, and later tried a sample plate from the ZamTan folks.  Gyro is actually a Greek term.  The Turks should call it doner, but, whatever sells.

It’s a good thing we learned how to make Salvadoran pupusas after last year’s visit.  There was a huge line-up there.  The pupusas are really popular, but their service staff were the least organized.

Many of these groups also had commercial/information booths further back.  You could buy carvings, clothing, henna tattoos, jewellery, toys and other assorted gewgaws, too numerous to mention.  Aside from the blatantly ethnic, there were a lot of social-awareness groups.

The Regional Police had a shop.  The local publicly funded radio station had a remote broadcast booth.  There was an organization called Unlearn, an anti-violence, anti-bigotry, anti-the usual suspects way of doing things, group.  Sort of an Occupy For Intellectuals.  The Free Thinkers, whose meetings the daughter and I occasionally attend, had a booth.

There were also; The Art Gallery, the Symphony, African/Caribbean Awareness, Non-Violence Council, the local Transit Authority, English as a Second Language, Falun Gong, Injured Workers Support, the Library, a geo-caching group, all three major political parties, Hare Krishnas, ice-cream cranked out by a tiny, one-cylinder motor, a coffee-house for adults to relax and Tales For Children, who would watch kids and entertain them for busy parents.

A fourteen year-old girl, who gets let off a school bus several miles out in the country, had a speeding garbage truck bank off the back corner of her stopped bus, and smash her into a field, recently.  She’s an hour away, in a specialty hospital.  The entire local Mennonite community is backing her and her parents.  There was a booth selling ribbons, rubber bracelets and shirts to help finance anticipated huge care fees, if she survives.  We got our bracelet at a Mennonite meat store that morning.  I just hope the entry fee was waived for them.

The native-Canadian Indians held a pow-wow.  The Lutheran Church was there.  The Catholic Church was represented by five Jesuit priests in long black cassocks.  They looked as warm as the Arab women.  I saw one Arab female….well, actually I didn’t.  An amorphous, mobile, little black mass with a half-inch slit at eye level, covered with Dolce and Gabbana sunglasses.  Clothing ranged from there down to hot, (mostly) young things wearing so little fabric, there was barely enough room to hang the for-rent sign.

We got home about seven PM.  By that time the son had been up for 24 hours.  He immediately headed for bed and the wife and I had a two-hour nap before I started this post.  I can hardly wait for next year.