Foodies live here

The Venerable Saint Lawrence market on Front Street, Toronto

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There I went today after my sausage mission to St. Catharines, arriving at the market at the height of noontime traffic.  One 0f the possibilities was to find a table at one of the market restaurants and to pull out my old-fashioned phone list of my Saint Catharines market customers that do not use email and to contact this extremely loyal group of 77 and take their market orders for the March 17 Saint Catharines market.  Entering, past the jam-packed Fish and Chips restaurant | realized that happily this would not be a work environment but that I was free to pursue my own market purchases ignoring those soon in need of sausage.

eating in basement of Saint Lawrence market
CSIS came up in my neighbours conversation so I surreptitiously took a selfie including them and made an entry into their permanent file

 

I have made regular pilgrimages over the years to the Saint Lawrence market (downtown Toronto).

  • 1977 on a visit to my oldest brother, Steve, at his Purple Sageway residence I finched a ride down to the subway at Finch and did quite the extensive walking tour of downtown Toronto using an architectural guidebook I had acquired somewhere along the way
  • 1985, for part of a week at Riverside Community Church which is nearby I actually stayed with a family at a Regent Park apartment.  I remember eating wieners and spaghetti (yes, that latter day Sheldon  Cooper favourite). and on the same day hearing the family’s young teenage daughter remarking on the blueness of my eyes.  I don’t know where she might be now but my prayer for her is that there are a pair of blue eyes so true looking after her..
  • early 1990ish I did some shopping for a Thanksgiving dinner at the same market, considering but not, in fact, buying the fresh gooses that were proferred by the foul vendors there
  • 2014? Denis Bell and I shop at the market as he is a both a fellow foodie and lives only a dozen or so blocks away
  • jump to 2015, days before Christmas and I am with my brown-eyed-girl-who-loves-my-eyes-too at One King West for a few days and I’m shopping to supply the kitchen in our suite apartment there

my first trip to downtown T.O. at 15 years old included a picture of this iconic Front Street building

 

Today, I have  until 3:15 when my train leaves from Union Station, so why not shop the Saint Lawrence market?

Philately

still the same stamps in the variety packetsThe impulse to collect stamps is labelled “philately”.  Between the ages of ~9 years old and 15, I possessed that rather solitary passion and it might be a major contributing factor in the development of my adventurous nature.  That need to explore goes hand in hand with a lack of fear of the unknown, in my case, and it brought me to Montreal, ideal home for adventurers…, and stamp collectors as I discovered today.

A small ad in a paper that I read rather assiduously led me to exup 42, which I suppose can only be the 42nd Exposition of the Union des philatélistes.  The ad promised both free entry and free parking, but I took the scenic route by bus along Jean Talon this morning and walked up to the second floor of the Maison  du Citoyen in Villeray – St. Michel – Parc Extension fashionably just after the 10am opening.

After a few words of counsel from the Union people, I was directed away from the merchants and into the Bourse des timbres à 10c de l’UPM.  Taking my seat with the other early birds, I introduced myself, “Mon nom est Ted et je suis une philatéliste”.  I blague (I’m joking).  It was more of a square than a circle, due to the tables in front of us.  In the middle of the room were other tables piled with hundreds of albums holding what the UPM volunteer described as “surplus stamps that their members were willing to sell at 10 cents each”. I had the full extent of my circa 1975 stamp collection along with me, and since there were some stamps that I lacked in a “World of Sports”” stamp album from the USPS.  I started by looking at “thematique” albums which contained various – boats, bridges, flowers, animals and, not least, sports”.  Soon I was lost in the beauty of stamps, filling out a dim sum-like summary of my purchases. MLK_Togo_timbreAfter a slow browse through 4 or 5 thematic albums, I was getting the hang of the system and decided that I would follow up on a recent read of a sort of autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. starting with stamps from Africa honouring him.  The albums of African countries, from North to South, Angola to Zanzibar piled before me failed to yield up a single Martin Luther King stamp, though I remember reading that he did travel there.  Finally in the Togo Republic, I found the civil rights hero’s image on a stamp.  I know the obvious is to look for MLK in USA, but since presidents and prime ministers like John F. Kennedy and Winston Churchill can be found everywhere in the stamps of the world, I expected the same for this martyred civil rights hero.  Not the case.

The take home for me, besides a selection of stamps that I can use to illustrate future blogs on a variety of topics touching history or geography, is that there are people like me whose interest in stamps is not about rarity or even the collecting impulse but who see stamps as a “trampoline au monde entier”…, and a good conversation starter.  J’ai côtoyé du monde fort engageant aujourd’hui et c’est pas le monde des timbres, mais le monde des philatélistes.

Reverend Toussaint

My last blog spoke of a busy birthday weekend for me with both a Jireh concert and a Montreal Gospel Choir performance as part of an event marking black history in Burlington, Vermont.  In this blog I want to highlight an unexpected pleasure for me on my birthday – something that happened quite by surprise and was the perfect way to mark my 55th birthday.

I made the remark to a couple of my fellow MGC members in the weeks leading up to our choir’s second career performance in the United States that if there were any border troubles and for some reason, or perhaps some unwelcome choir member we were refused entry at the Quebec – Vermont border, it actually might turn out to be more interesting  that way than performing at the scheduled event.MGC  And I, who really do love performing anywhere, love especially performing to the people of Vermont.  This is a people as mellow as the Green Mountain Coffee that they serve, but you can count on them to raise their hands and participate actively in a  gospel concert. In the earliest years of Jireh, and before that with Union Gospel Choir, I had the pleasure of being before an audience who not only loved my Lord Jesus but outwardly indicated the same in the way that they responded to his music.  Rarely seen in Canada, this gospel fervour, I must admit.

The building of the Unitarian Universalist Society of Burlington was what my ideal church building would look like – simple, but infused with light with windows on both sides of the sanctuary on the main floor and the balcony floor.  My own chosen church in Montreal does not possess such easy access to light.  We are a multi-campus church that has a goal of having a location in each borough of Montreal.  I may just drive across town to some foreign borough should we ever find a location with the quality of light that the Unitarian Universalists of Burlington possess!

The choir performed, and I must say we performed just a little better than usual because we were actively encouraged by the greater part of the black audience and even those of the whiter solidarity set.  My wife, Carol, as director is world class.  I love watching her lead – she has all the skills on and offstage to excel in her chosen field.  Then came my birthday surprise as Reverend Toussaint King Hill from Atlanta, Georgia was introduced as the speaker at this black history month event.

Carol and I went to see a civil rights era movie recently.  “Hidden Figures” is set in the very early 1960’s in the state of Virginia and follows the story of 3 black “computers”, women who used their dexterity with adding machines and sometimes, when given the opportunity, their math abilities to enable NASA to send men and spaceships into orbit and to bring them back to earth again.  Civil rights history in the United States is so close at hand to us as Canadians and is so troubling because my privileged class of whiter peoples in all their institutions were so slow at bringing equal rights and access to education to their neighbours who didn’t share the same ancestry.  It is striking to Carol and I, this injustice, as we can testify as a married couple that there are far more things that we share in common than there are things that would divide us.

Faith in Jesus Christ is perhaps the greatest unifying element that Carol and I share.  Carol loves hearing preaching even more than I do as she continues daily to hear the word of God set forth (through means of the internet) while I get my preaching fix but once per week at church.  This was my once per week prescription that the introduced Reverend Hill was bringing today and for Carol, it was a sampling of something too rare for our northern breed – African American preaching in the tradition of the great Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.

Reverend Hill is a distinguished alumnus of Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia, without doubt one of the greatest colleges among all the outstanding educational institutions in United States.  He prepared there, as Martin Luther King Jr. himself did, to be the pastor of a church.  Reverend Hill received his present call as pastor in 2006, to West Hunter Street Baptist Church in Atlanta.  This was the church that Ralph Albernathy also pastored for many years, another renowned civil rights leader, colleague and friend of Martin Luther King.  Could there be a better speaker possible for a black history month event in Burlington, Vermont on a sunny day in February?

The sermon, for our speaker did not shy away from his gifting even in this Unitarian setting, started slowly, a cadence well-known in the southern states.  As the sermon developed, Reverend Hill added different “tracks” – biblical, historical, musical, mythical, inspirational, political and educational.  Instead of going serially from one track to another as a less-gifted speaker might, he wove the traps into a tapestry – one theme appearing for a minute before it stepped behind another track.  There was a large white handkerchief ready next to the pulpit for Reverend King’s use.  By midway through the sermon, it was obvious that our speaker would be needing the handkerchief even in these northern climes.  He was working the tapestry which was meant to both honour and inspire a people.  You certainly didn’t have to be black to be inspired and moved by his words.  You didn’t need to be a believer to have a great appreciation for his subject of the afternoon, but for those of us who were of the faith in Jesus, he rallied us to proclaim it and to acknowledge Jesus with him.

Carol could not have hoped for a speaker who better represented the preaching style that is native to the churches that birthed the gospel music that Montreal Gospel Choir sings.  His connection with American Civil rights history  and his practice as a preacher to continue in that tradition along with his obvious faith in God and love of Jesus made him the perfect person for us as a choir to back in this event.  Sometimes pastors are accused of “preaching to the choir”.  Because of the willingness of Reverend Toussaint King Hill to come north at the invitation of Patrick Brown, sponsor and organizer of this event, he had the opportunity to preach to a choir very different than the gospel choir that he has in his home church.  As Montreal Gospel Choir continues to develop in its unique way, Reverend Hill’s sermon on February 26, 2017 will no doubt provide a frame of reference to us in faith and in singing.  Preach it, brother!IMG_0763

I have a heritage

Harold Dettweiler, first-born son with (oldest to youngest) Margaret, Mary and Ruby. Year - 1925.
Harold Dettweiler, first-born son with (oldest to youngest) Margaret, Mary and Ruby. Year – 1925.

 

This photo of my father speaks volumes to me.  I love reading and contemplating history.  The best kind is the history that has shaped your own life.  My father is still with us in 2016, passing his 94th birthday!

In the midst of the “roaring twenties” my grandparents had the family put on their Sunday-best clothes and document themselves at a photographer’s studio.  Dad knew the Great Depression of the thirties. There’s a story of my grandfather going to market with piglets and coming home later with more than he took as someone else had slipped their own that they didn’t have the means to feed in with the Dettweiler stock.  The Christmas gift one of those lean years, shared among his sisters was a simple enamel or steel comb for their hair. Dad was finished his schooling at the Riverbank school, just down the road from home, in 1936.Harold, Clark, Ward and Glen Dettweiler in dad's teen years  The future, from that point was working on the farm.  My Mennonite heritage, through my father, is evangelical Christian.  His father’s barn impelled passers-by with the words of John the Baptist from Mark 1:15, “Repent, and believe the Gospel”.

In 1942, my dad was sent, along with other conscientious objectors to alternative service which began, for him, at the Montreal River camp in Ontario, on the north shore of Lake Superior.  An autograph book my father kept from those times makes me think that my father experienced an extended bit of camp-comradery as his co-workers there in the 6 or 8 months he spent there shared on those pages scripture verses or perhaps a witty poem.  His alternative service then continued near home as he worked for the local dairy right through the very end of the war in 1946.

After the war, life continued on the farm.  Dad travelled several times during those years between the war and the meeting-my-mom and marriage in 1952 to Alberta, at harvest-time to work on harvesting the grain.  In winter, when farm work was less intense he attended this Bible School held at First Mennonite in Kitchener.  The photo below is only half of a huge panorama shot of the students involved with him in learning from the Bible in January of 1948.  My dad is in the top row the second from the right hand side of the photo.My dad among other Bible School students at Kitchener in January 1948

From all this history of dad, I learn that I didn’t invent life out of nothing (ex nihilo?) I just continued it.  Like I would walk behind my dad as he tilled the soil of the garden in spring with the roto-tiller, I followed in the way that he had established.  If I like to dress well, I continue the lines established by father’s very non-plain ties.  I eat simple food and enjoy it; I love adventure that takes me from home and I love returning.  I can make my own way through life and I’ve been informed by God’s word.

Thanks, Dad for all of this.

Barbados Booking High

Eastern Caribbean Map
Eastern Caribbean islands

This afternoon I’ve been on an anticipatory Friday afternoon high, but not the typical release that comes with the venue of a holiday weekend ahead, but even more – a Barbados Booking High!

In the last two days I spent hours looking at travel possibilities, trying to balance Carol’s expressed needs for all-inclusiveness and a book-reading perch with a view, with my needs for both comfort (and nothing is more comfortable than a happy wife) and adventure.

Over 3 of the last 4 years we’ve spent a post concert (“One 12”, 13, and 15) pre-Christmas holiday in Dominican Republic at an all-inclusive, ditto for 2013 and in last year’s version we took a step in the Ted adventure direction by branching out from an old favourite – the 7 mile, Negril Beach and combining a stay at a budget all-inclusive with acceptable Jamaican cuisine (we had memories of going to Merrils for short stays with family) with a slick hotel down the beach which was strictly a-la-carte once you got beyond breakfast.

With 2015’s holiday successfully breaking us out of the package-all-inclusive mould, I started planning this year’s version.  I prefer to start with something that I already know somewhat for having been there once – Barbados, and going on variations from there.  Our first and only trip to Barbados had been a home-stay (thank you, Lashleys) and we made great connections that trip with relatives of our friend whose home we were staying at, who took us on a day’s tour around the entire island of Barbados.  We felt the wind at The Crane, saw the surfers at Bathsheba, and rounded, by way of the hilly north to the flat and gentle waters of the (over-developed) west coast.  All that and lunch at our hosts lovely central-Barbados hilltop home.  Beijans are nothing, if not hospitable.

When I checked out flights to Barbados yesterday, the prices were quite good by pre-Christmas standards.  I kept that in mind, but I didn’t ye

First Night Hotel - clean, modern and on the beach in Barbados
First Night Hotel – clean, modern and on the beach in Barbados

t know what I was going to do with it.  Travelzoo is an email letter that sends out weekly travel deals.  It always piques my interest to look at travel options that are also available at good prices. This week’s Travelzoo deals had a St. Lucia resort that got me checking into how I might get there.  In the process of trying different flight possibilities of combining a Barbados flight with a pond-jumper over to St. Lucia, I saw that some of these Liat flights were not direct connections but stopped over in Fort-de-France (Martinique) or St. Vincent.  In the end, I took St. Lucia out of the equation entirely when I saw an all-inclusive (my wife’s guaranteed approval) available at a very acceptable price per day that had impeccable rooms and great reviews on the food…in St. Vincent.

St. Vincent is now where we are really going for the week following the concert in December.  We are taking a return flight, Montreal – Barbados, relaxing for the afternoon and evening at the pictured hotel quite convenient to the airport (South Beach Hotel) and then heading back to Grantley Adams after breakfast and lunch for the 40 minute flight with Liat to St. Vincent.  From that point we are in the hands of the all-inclusive hands of Buccament Bay Resort.  A couple of hours after arriving this will be our westward sunset view from the resort on the beach.  There is a reef and crystal clear water right off the beach at the resort, so my relaxation WILL be including colourful fish-gazing.  Oh yes, bring it on!

BuccamentBayResortjpg

Update:  September 23.  We decided to forgo the unknown of St. Vincent & Liat air connections for the comforts of an all-inclusive on the west side of Barbados.  Looking forward to walking miles along the beach in Barbados, hanging with the Brits at The Club and swimming in the clear waters with the sea turtles.

Swimming with turtles in Barbados