Market and me

Pen & Ink sketch of Kitchener Farmers Market

This pen and ink print signed “Paquette 72” hung on the wall just above some Group of Seven prints in my parents dining room. It was well placed near the table where we celebrated special occasions as the meat business that the Dettweiler family has been associated with for several generations was founded on taking our meat to market and we still continue doing that.

My father remembers his earliest market experiences at the Preston market.  Sales began with the ringing of a bell at, I’m going to say, 6 am.  Seems early, but in that era the first sales would already be lined up for waiting purchasers and with the bell the money could change hands.  Farmer vendors like my grandfather had work to do at home and in the day of early morning markets they may have been back home by 9 am.  If you weren’t an early riser in that day, you did not get to buy the meat and produce brought to market by hard-working farmers.  At St. Catharines market, if you want Dettweiler’s sausage in the 21 century, you can come as late as 11 am – but no later, as at that hour I will already be packing up in order to get on with the work of my Niagara-on-the-Lake deliveries.

My father would make deliveries of meat after the brief market hours, perhaps to customers in the neighbouring town of Hespeler and certainly in the other direction from home to Breslau customers.  When he eventually built his own meat shop, maybe 1/4 mile down the road from the family farm, he called his business “Midway Meat Market”.  This name took advantage of the name of the Breslau telephone exchange.  When you picked up your telephone in those days you didn’t need to know any numbers.  You spoke to the operator and asked for the “Midway” exchange and then asked to be connected to the meat market there.  Presumably, picking up the handset and specifying “Midway Meat Market” was all it took to be connected to my dad in those days.  There you could order a pound of bacon, a nice chuck roast and 2 pounds of pork sausage and my father could arrange to deliver it to you at your home.

If you would like to order some of Mennonite smoked sausage these days you can contact us by emailing “info” followed by the domain name of the website you are presently looking at (which is our family name) and the “.ca” ending of Canadian domains.  We also have a store on Victoria Street, just across the Grand River from Kitchener and the phone number for this Breslau, Ontario location is the exact same one we have had since the day that they discontinued telephone operators for local calls.

Many things have changed over the years, but you can still get quality meat from the Dettweilers which will make your meal times to be special occasions.

Focus

I am quite accomplished at having idealistic goals and then being distracted into accomplishing much less.  Example: on the weekend I set myself up with a Friday visit to the Super Library (my new name, for blogging purposes, for the Bibliotheque et Archives Nationale du Québec) to have a good weekend of reading.  Saturday morning I set out to find a replacement for the TV that was no longer 100% working (a 1 inch horizontal band of dead pixels).  Researched and accomplished that by mid afternoon and then got lost in the wonderful new technology that I had brought home which included an updated terminal from the cable company.  The remainder of Saturday, after attending a gospel concert (Chorale de la Prophésie) I watched the 3 hockey games that had recorded while I was out and set up other things on the TV.

At least I had the wisdom to take advantage of the excellent weather on Sunday afternoon and go skating.  Best ice of the season.  I’m back today skating until the music gave out (disco killed my skating joy).  Took refuge in the café to read book and ended up being distracted again, this time by internet and emails and finally this blog.  They just finished resurfacing ice so I will enjoy an hour of skating pleasure and then accomplish some 2014 bookkeeping at home office before spending the evening reading my library books.

Pure 2015

There are two blogs that I’ve subscribed to so that each time these talented bloggers write something, I get it in my email inbox.  One of those blogs is called Obscure CanLit Mama and this blog’s writer, who is also a published fiction and short story writer, chooses a word of the year for each year.  These are words that have the quality of being meditatable (not a word, I’m most sure), like a mantra, and words that empower life.

After Obscure CanLit Mama opened up her comments so that her readers could share their words-of-the-year, I posted a comment, choosing a word of the year for 2015 and sharing it in that forum.  My post was more than a paragraph, before I edited it back, so I cut and paste the superfluous paragraphs not appropriate to the comment section and am posting them here as today’s blog post:

Instead of just being a spectator on this blog (as I am most days) I, too, am going to choose a word of the year for 2015. Can’t say I’ve reflected on this for the probably necessary days, but the very first word of the song “Real Love” on Jireh Gospel Choir’s new album “Get Up” is pure. [Full disclosure, I am a singer in Jireh and am married to Carol Bernard, the director]. That’s my word for 2015 that I want to explore and that I want God to work into my life. Funny that ‘pure’ is set prominently as first word in a song that was perhaps gospel song writer extraordinaire Stephen Lewis’ first foray into writing radio-friendly lyrics.

The lyrics go ‘Pure, kind, something I have inside of me, joy, unspeakable each time I think of everything, you’ve done in my life…’ Somehow those beginning words set Real Love off on a good track. Like the list of the fruits of the spirit it makes me want this in my life.

On my next trip to the library I’ll start by exploring the etymology (I hope that’s the word) of ‘pure’. How was the word first used? What’s its history? But the all-important part of this exercise, my first time having a word of the year, is, “What will the concept of ‘pure’ produce in my life?”. Only good things, I’m sure.

Stay tuned throughout 2015 as I reflect on ‘pure’.

Most unfavourite things

“Hi, this is Ted Dettweiler calling from Dettweiler’s Sausage.  We’re going to be delivering in your area in the afternoon on Saturday, August 23.  Would you like some sausage at this time?”

That’s my opening line on the telephone to my 87 phone order customers in various parts of the Niagara region.  It’s not very refined – I think they say in sales to never ask a question that can be answered with a “No”.  But this blog post is not about improving my sales technique, it’s to tell you the very interesting things that happen when I FINALLY get around to making these phone calls.

FINALLY get around – OK, let’s back up – calling customers in the Niagara region is something that I do only 4 times per year as that is how many trips I make to the St. Catharines market, doing delivery to homes in certain areas, like Niagara-on-the-Lake, in the afternoon after I’ve finished my market sales.  I have more customers than the 87 that I will call today and tomorrow, but the rest have email addresses and I have rigged up my Filemaker Pro database so that I can click my mouse on “Send delivery email” or “Send market email” and when they respond I can click on “Send delivery confirm” etc.

4 times per year I procrastinate the calling.  I’ll fiddle with my database layout; I’ll do the dishes; I’ll make raspberry jam; I’ll create a blog on food and then post a story on the garden stew I was making to avoid doing these calls.  You must be thinking, what kind of customers does he have that he avoids doing a half-a-baker’s-dozen-dozen phone calls so?

My customers are the best customers in the world.  Many of the phone list customers are older and don’t do internet, email and all that modern stuff.  While many are quite business-like on their calls (my long distance records show that my average call lasts 14.5 seconds*) that suits me fine as that is exactly my phone manner – all business-at-hand, no chit-chat or politesse.  “I’ll have the same as last time” is a common order, which is why I keep records in my database, so I know exactly what, when, who and how much the last time was.  The number of these customers who order every time I call is much higher than it is for the email customers*, so I would be a fool to stop calling them simply because calling is something that I prefer not doing.

*Full disclosureI made up the two authoritative statements made in the previous paragraph.  If I took the time to do a study on my average call length or the order frequency of phone vs email customers I would only be further procrastinating my calling.

Calling is going very well, as usual. I’ve been playing a game to get through the calling.  These are the rules:  I must continue calling until one of the customers says “not this time”, at that, I mark “NTT Aug 2014” in the calling status field and put an X, which becomes an X in the YmX field.  At that point, I give myself permission to write another paragraph in this blog.  If I get an answering machine, or they are going to call me back once they check with their daughter, or the phone is busy (*66), that doesn’t count – I just document it in the database in the call status field and <ctrl>semi-colon in the call date field to put a timestamp on it and I’m on to the next phone number.  Count the paragraphs and you’ll see how many NO’s I’ve had so far.

†Not many NO’s at all as I only started the write-a-blog-paragraph-each-time-I get-a-NO game on around the 3rd paragraph (that doesn’t include the opening call-dialogue quote, but does include the footnoted paragraphs written in-line – like this one).  I’m actually wanting to procrastinate on the blog writing in favour of the calling, it’s going so well.  But first let me tell you about one interesting call that brought tears to my eyes, and from the emotion in my callers voice, I would likely say that it brought tears to my customer’s eyes as well.  Stay tuned, that’s coming up right after this calling break.

I think there were probably at least two or three very interesting calls that I could write about – I’m a writer (though not professionally) besides making the very best sausage you can find anywhere.  Sometimes when I am in the midst of the mundane task of calling customers it’s as if God sends me a sparkling jewel to remind me that there is more to life than making a living.

I’m thinking back to a call, earlier this year, to one of my very best customers  as I was preparing for my annual Leamington-and-area sausage deliveries in February and there are tears in my eyes as I write.  On that day, I could hardly continue talking on the phone, my emotions made it difficult for me, because of her and her family’s tremendous loss that was still so painfully fresh when I made the call.  I don’t want to give any more details about this experience but even this was for the good as I felt it was ordained by God that I called that customer on that day.

This morning one of my best customers spoke of her granddaughter who was on her way today to the U.S.A. where she is accepting a scholarship for university.  I’m sure she is so proud of her granddaughter’s achievements which allowed her to earn this scholarship, but the concern that she expressed was for her spiritual well-being going away to study.  I said that I’d pray for this grand-daughter whenever I thought of the school where she is going to study.  That will be fairly often as the school, or state, has produced many fine football coaches that have worked in Canada in the CFL and also in our universities.  (I’ve been a CFL and Golden Hawks fan for a long time).

I really liked when my customer told me what was on her heart on this day.  God has always provided for me quite well through this sausage business passed down from my father.  In recent years I’ve seen great things happen in around the business.  I have the faith that comes from seeing God act in my life.  I’ve come through a few very challenging experiences myself and now sometimes I feel called alongside others when they need support.  For sausage lasts for 6 or 8 months when kept properly in a freezer, but the spiritual side of us, I know, that keeps forever.

Rejoice with me, for I finished all 87 calls and this blog is thus complete!