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Vegan or vegetarian?

I am now in my 86th vegetarian year, or at least malo lactic vegetarian year, living quite contentedly on a diet that keeps me firmly away from red meat, but has no religious or ethical significance. I love vegetables and eat an awful lot of them, which Is why I have been interested to note the growth of vegan options on restaurant menus, as I would expect them to suit me. The other night, when it was my wife’s turn to choose our date night dining spot, I was interested that she selected a vegan restaurant, as she is by no means a vegetarian or vegan. The appearance of the place, which shall remain nameless, as I am sure they mean well, was distinctly different, the abundance of pseudo spiders webs’, may have had something to do with it. The clientele apart from us was no more than a third of our age, and clearly following a different dress code.

We entered and stood around, but no one offered us a place to sit so we sat at a table, and then realised we would have to go to a counter to order. We found ourselves a menu, and discovered that the principal choice was between Paninis, Warm Wraps, Hot Bowls and Cold Bowls. I know what paninis are, and also what wraps are the issue that remained is the choice of Hot or Cold Bowls. Does the hot/cold refer to temperature or spiciness? Without hesitation, my wife plunged for Coconut Curry: chickpeas, zucchini spirals, root veggies, kale, raisins, and pepitas. They must have forgotten the Coconut. Being braver than my wife, I ordered, also from the hot bowl area a Veta Vegetable Bowl: Zucchini spirals, tomatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes, green lentils, red peppers, and tomato chili sauce. Zucchini spirals for heavens sake, it tastes of nothing anyway so when you spiral it it just leads to spillage and confusion. It had all been chopped up into tiny pieces or served out with a scoop, but everything was still raw. The Hot Bowl was cold.

Is it just me, or is there some giant conspiracy to not cook or undercook vegetables? Is there a giant conspiracy organised by dentists to wear out our teeth on uncooked or partially cooked veggies? Is this a response to the energy crisis, forbidding cooking things properly?

I shall never know, but I shall from now on approach vegan with more caution or open a can of baked beans.


A remarkable collection of surviving relatives in August 2022. Three daughters, three sons in law. one niece and one nephew in law. Four grandchildren, and one great nephew. In addition, but not present, we also have three step grandchildren and four step great grandchildren who joined the family with one of the sons in law.

They are all standing on the dock outside a cottage belonging to one of the sons in law, during a visit from England of my niece and her husband and son.

Some statistical data :

They all have post-secondary qualifications. apart from two who are still at university.

Between them they have run at least 40 marathons, and over 3000 kms in races.

Marathons include London, Boston, Chicago, Ottawa, Prague, Big Sur, Berlin, Tokyo,

Two, and their mother have won national titles.

Over 100 mountains summited. not including Sheila’s 35 ascents of Mount Katahdin.

Some of them trot the globe for business, others for pleasure.

Some write books, some blogs some take wonderful photographs.

We are very proud of our family, but we do find them exhausting

What Stairs

Earlier posts: “So the time had come to move”, and “Moving on.” have talked about various historic moves and our downsizing operation. After three months in an apartment, how has life changed? Following up on the title of this piece, I no longer have to go up and down stairs. We may be on the third floor, but so far on only one occasion have I had to use the stairs, when someone else was moving large pieces of furniture. It may have involved two flights, but that is nothing in comparison to six or more flights a day at 212 Montgomery. In theory we no longer have a garden. but the children in assisting us to move purchased more plants than we had room for on the balcony, so we moved some of them inside , and we are entering the winter with at least six plants in the living room, and we had an excellent crop of little tomatoes.

When you have lived in the same house for nearly 50 years, you get to see and meet most of your neighbours from time to time as they move into the neighborhood. Moving to an apartment, even if only a couple of kilometers away may result in a separation from other people. We last lived in an apartment in Newfoundland in 1968 and yet my wife and our next-door neighbour at the time, still entertain each other to lunch on their birthdays. Our first three months here at Centre Point seem to suggest that this a friendly place to be, apart from official get together times, Happy Hour on Friday evening, Coffee hour on Thursday morning., It is hard to avoid your fellow tenants. who seem to respond positively whether in the corridor, elevator or parking lot.

It was a little concerning today when I responded to Statistics Canada about the Labour Force Survey, and they said that my apartment did not exist!

It is hard to leave or return to the building without encountering a fellow tenant, and at the very least a greeting appears to be mandatory. I only wish I could remember the names of all those people who seem to remember mine.

In terms of space, we may have a little less than in our old house, but it is much better organised. We have a bedroom and bathroom each (my wife claims that I snore) on either side of the main room which includes the kitchen the dining area and the sitting area. There is probably room for a curling rink, but we have heating facilities, so that will not happen. The main living area with everything else off to one side or the other, no corridors or passages is actually larger than the semidetached house my sister-in-law has in London!

We assume that this is an adult building, at least we have seen no sign of children living here, though we do see the occasional visitor to Mum or granny, some of whom may stay overnight. Two of our children stayed here overnight on inflatable mattresses. The person who showed us round this building asked why we were not going into one of the fully catered buildings, considering our age, to which I responded That I would much rather do my own cookery. It would probably cost us three times as much if we went into one of those buildings, while the rent here would be covered at least seven years with luck, from the proceeds of our house sale. It is not one of the lower cost buildings and the population tends to represent at least a middle-class background. Residents belong to golf and curling clubs, and a surprising number of them write books. Rumor has it we are the oldest couple in the building.

As far as the neighborhood is concerned, it has a lot to offer. The adjacent block on the street has two pizzerias, a fancy dining spot that serves lobster omelettes for breakfast, a Dollarama, a climbing wall, and an African Grocery. Across the road is the Happy Baker, which justifies its name in its choice of bread and pastries, while on the opposite corner is the Superstore, the largest grocery store in town. If we wish to leave, the bus station is just across the street.

On the whole, we are content with the move.

Canada Labour Survey

It may be a coincidence, but I am not sure. Some 20 or 30 years ago a second cousin of mine refused to complete the annual census form. She was prosecuted, went to court, and won, Statistics Canada appealed the decision and lost again, the reason being rumoured as due to a not bright enough lawyer. Before we moved out of our house, I received a letter from StatsCan saying as a householder I had been selected to participate in the Labour Force Survey and should expect a call, which never came, I later received a second later saying they could not trace me, so I called them and said I had moved. They then said in that case I was no longer relevant.

After being at my new address for a couple of months, I received another letter saying my address had been selected for the Labour Force Survey, and I should expect a visit or a call which never came. A week later I received another letter saying they had not heard from me, urging me to contact them, which I did with no success. A month later I received yet another letter complaining about the lack of contact, with a code number that had grown from 15 to 26 digits, whatever that means. which finally stirred me into further action. I phoned the number in the sort of threatening letter, and ultimately got through to a human being. She was, I should point out, at all times extremely polite for the 35 minutes we spent on the phone together! The problem appeared to be that we did not exist, at least apartment 309 did not exist, she tried to track us down using postal codes, civic addresses and other means known only to Statscan, but with no success. In the end she said she would have to turn the case over to her supervisor

About an hour later the phone rang again, her supervisor had “found my file”! Why had they been hiding it I wonder? Was it because of my second cousin? She then proceeded to ask me all the sort of silly questions you get asked on surveys to which I dutifully replied. As we finished she said there had been a popup on her computer and she had even more questions for me, which again I replied to. She then said that I would be surveyed monthly for the next few months and did I want to be phoned or use Email. I opted for the Email option; I may not always have 35 minutes to spare.

In conclusion I was impressed by the politeness and persistence of this young lady, it made a nice change from some of the calls you get.


Moving on

(See “So the time had come to move” for our earlier migrations)

There comes a time when one has to stop, think. and maybe, act. When you and your wife are in your mid-eighties, living on your own in a four-bedroom house, with a large garden, that is one of those moments. If you add to that arthritus and a reluctance to go up or down stairs, and the fact that after 49 years of residence there is a great deal of maintenance waiting to be done, you can understand why we were pondering a move. We had frequently received letters and calls from realtors asking if we wanted to sell the house, so we asked one to come round for a chat, he told us that even in the decrepit state of the house (and probably us), the house could be sold as is, where is. The where is being significant as we were in an ideal location, and our three children had never needed a school bus. He said that if we intended to sell, we should find new accommodation before going on sale as it was a very hot seller’s market.

We had been told that decent apartments at a sensible price were hard to find, so we set out to see what was available, Sheila had a number of friends in one complex, but when we checked there was no covered parking which was a must considering the snow situation. We then went back to the realtor, who recommended another building down on the main street, but when we visited the only available unit, Sheila did not like the view, and there was no space in the underground parking. The letting agent, however, took us to an older building that we found much more appealing, with a lot of common space, inhouse storage, covered parking and wide hallways. With some trepidation we signed a lease, and asked the realtor to come round on Saturday afternoon to start the process of going on the market, On Saturday morning we had a visit from a friend of Sheila’s and his girlfriend who had heard that we might be selling and wanted to take a look, they immediately wanted to make an offer! Fortunately, the realtor had suggested a price earlier which was higher than I had anticipated, and they offered that figure. When the realtor came round in the afternoon, he suggested that we should at least get another offer. which we got on Sunday, but the original couple matched the increased offer, so we accepted it.

Now we were faced with a new conundrum, how would we organise our move? We had three months to go before we could move into our apartment, and we had made the necessary arrangements with the purchaser to pay and take over on the day we moved in. But what would we move in? We were going from 4 bedrooms to two after 49 years of occupancy, some things would have to go. After seeking advice from several sources, we were directed to two ladies who offered a complete service. They would make us decide what to keep and what to get rid of, and they would organize the collection and disposal of things we did not need and would arrange the move and installation of the things we were planning to take with us. We were instructed to book a hotel for a couple of days, so we would not be underfoot while they did the packing, unpacking, and installation. This seemed a good idea in theory, so we went along with it. We did encounter some differences of opinion on what should be kept or disposed of, but in the end they generally bullied us into compliance. When we returned from our hotel stay to our new home, it was completely organised and even the beds were made Mind you three months later we are still discovering where some things are.

And has our life changed from homeowner to apartment renter? See “What Stairs”

So the time had come to move.

My wife Sheila and I have been married for 62 years, during that time we have lived in England, twice, Australia, and two Canadian Provinces, Generally speaking the two of us have moved on different dates and undertaken different responsibilities for the move. The exception being the move to Australia, when we travelled first class on an ocean liner. When my contract with the Australian Government was due to expire, my wife was pregnant with our second child, and she would be too pregnant to travel when I was free to go. So she went back to England in July, while I went to Papua New Guinea. We had some friends who had just had a baby and were living in a small apartment so, we let them have our house while it was empty. When I returned to Melbourne, I let them stay in the house while I took a room in town, When I left Australia. the other couple was still in our house while they looked fo a place of their own they finally sold it on our behalf and shipped our belongings back to England, where my wife and I had already bought a house.

I was not terribly happy with my UK employer, and in1967 after three years I responded to an advertisement that resulted in my being offered a job in Canada, initially in Newfoundland. This time, I went first as we had school terms to think of. On arrival St Johns I was provided with a two bedroom unfurnished apartment, which I had to furnish as quickly and cheaply as possible actually getting it fixed for a little over$150. It was a couple of months before our belongings and Sheila and the kids arrived. Unfortunately, there was a controversy about what might be built behind our English house, which made selling not very practical, but we did get someone to rent it at what seemed to be a reasonable rate.

I worked in Newfoundland for a little over a year, and I was then offered a position in the Toronto headquarters of the company which I had little choice but to accept, as the other project was complete, and headed for Toronto, and found a townhouse which I rented, without the help and wisdom of my wife. She joined me with tyhe children a couple of months later. The townhouse in Don Mills turned out to be a good choice with plenty of other kids and likeminded adults in the neighborhood. We spent 5 years there, until I was poached by the New Brunswick Government who were setting up an environment department. This time I was allowed a trip with my wife, at their expense to find a home in Fredericton.

The morning after we arrived in Fredericton, we visited several real estate agents telling them we wanted to buy a house that day. We were shown several that did not meet our hopes, with the exception of one house, the right size, in the right place, that was not yet on the market, but was expected to be on sale soon. We approached the owner, whose wife was in hospital to ask if we could come and visit it. He said that his wife would not let anyone see the house without careful cleaning and preparation. We asked what her reaction would be if he could say the house was sold with no extra work. He reluctantly let us into a very untidy house with an unflushed toilet, but we made an offer anyway, and by 4 o’clock we had an accepted offer to move in in January. Once more we could not move as one unit, so I moved to Fredericton on January1 1973, and Sheila and the three girls arrived by train on February 22. We stayed in that house until June 2022.

A fiscal commentary: What might have been!

House PaidSold forNow value
Carrum$A2000 1961
$A2200 1964
$A1,500,000 2022
Molesey$18,000 1964$18000 1969$1,700,00 2022
Fredericton$30,000 1972$230,000 2022$230,000 2022
Maybe we should have stayed put

The purse

Since we have all gone plastic, the way we keep money has changed. Instead of a wallet bulging with bills, I have one with a couple of twenties, and a debit and a credit card. I still need some change from time to time, so for the past couple of years I have also had a change purse to use for example in the market or in places where vendors are unenthusiastic about keeping records for the tax industry. I had a very convenient little black change purse, but it went astray. To replace it I went to my go to store, Dollarama, where all I could find was a variegated cloth rainbow version of a purse, which while not my style, could serve my purpose for the time being. A few weeks later I was in the Regent mall, where there is a luggage shop and went to buy a small black purse. The price was $6 which I was about to pay but they said don’t do that, buy 2. I said why and they said that while one is$6. two are $5. Mystified by the logic, I purchased two purses, but only used one at a time. I should point out that in my relatively old age and advanced decrepitude, when I go to the farmers market on Saturday, I use a walking stick for stability, and also carry a shopping bag. Unfortunately I only have one pair of hands, this means that when I buy something I end trying to juggle the produce, the shopping bag, my walking stick, my purse, and sometimes my wallet at the same time.

I was not therefore totally surprised two weeks ago to discover that I had mislaid my purse. I shrugged my shoulders and said to myself, at least I still have the other purse, and decided not to get too excited about it as it probably only contained $3.45. I did however ask last weekend at a likely stall if they had found a black purse the week before. They said yes and thought they had brought it back to to the market with them. It turned out that they had not but thought it was still at the Big Potato. For our afternoon hike bike we went out to the Big Potato, where they returned my purse to me with enough money in it to purchase some cinnamon buns.

I do like Fredericton

Another Covid Christmas

The holiday was a challenge for all of us, in our case improved by the willingness of one of our children and her husband to come down to New Brunswick for a few days. We tried to be hospitable, but it is not always simple.

Its’ different with COVID at Christmas,
When your children have all moved away
And only one couple who’re daring,
Are able to come for a stay.

Facing the challenge of airports,
And testing before they could fly
With masks to cover their faces,
As they headed off into the sky.

We were pleased when they got here on schedule,
Without any further delays
They were here for a most welcome visit,
But only to stay for five days

Eager and young by comparison;
They willingly took us in hand.
With gifts, washing up, even cooking .
The help that they offered was grand

We gave them the traditional bedroom,
The one we don’t use anymore
With the double bed given to squeaking
And the wireless thing out on the floor

It did cause some Christmas disruption,
Our routines are just not the same
But its worth it to have two more people,
That’s even enough for a game

There were things that they wanted to sample,
Like blueberry ale and some wine
And the Highland Park 12 that they bought me,
All of it tasting quite fine.

They tidied up after cooking and cleaning,
And then put the utensils away
It did mean some diligent searching,
To find them took more than a day

When we took them back to the airport,
In good time as the airline had asked
We were sad to see they were leaving,
And glad they were properly masked.

So thanks middle daughter and husband
For spending those five days back here
We were delighted to have you
And we wish you a Happy New Year,

Olympic Games in my past

In the Spring of 1948 on one of our occasional Saturday morning forays into the nearest market town with my father, we went into the department store and visited the ticket sales counter, where my father purchased three tickets for one of the track and field days of the forthcoming Olympic games. He paid the incredible sum of 4 shillings, roughly one dollar in those days for each ticket. That would have been enough for three visits to the cinema and ice cream at intermission. I was only 10 years old at the time and had just started my athletic career by winning the boys under 11 cross country run at school. (One of very few wins in my running career). We had not yet got television and all I knew about athletics came from radio and the newspapers.
It was a few months later before we actually made our way to Wembley for the events. It was a sunny day, far more people than I had ever seen in one place before, and when came into the stadium we noticed that athletes were coming in with us, many of whom willingly signed my autograph book, which I have since lost, not a bit like these days.

The day started with heats of the women’s 200 metres, one of the heats was won by Fanny Blankers-Koen, who I had never heard of before, and who went on to 5 gold medals. I was more concerned about an athlete from the Philippines in the same event, who was disqualified after her third false start and never got to compete. The main event of the morning was the final of the 400 metres for men, won by a Jamaican called Arthur Wint, I had never imagined people could run that fast, he looked to be about 6 and a half foot tall and very skinny, but as he approached the finish line he passed everyone as if they were standing still, including his fellow countryman who came second. This was Jamaicas first ever gold medal, but as we all know, by no means their last.

The high light of the day was the mens 10000 metres, I now realise that is the reason my father picked that day, he use to run distance races at university. Of course we believed that Jim Peters, a great British athlete would triumph, but it was not to be. As soon as the race started a section of the crowd began to chant ZATOPEK ZATOPEK, and he certainly responded. This was his first Olympics and this was the only medal he won this time, setting an Olympic record and winning by nearly a minute. Later he would win the 5000, 10000, and marathon. It is interesting to note that the was not a single African in the 10000 or 5000 metre finals. Today they nearly all come from there.

It was 73 years ago, and I still remember that day and those races. To give my children a similar experience in 1976 I lined up for tickets at the Eaton’s outlet in the Fredericton mall, and paid about $200 for four tickets a day for a week. We went to Montreal where my wife and I took turns at the best event with one child, while the others went to an easily accessible venue. As chance, or was it sexism would have it, my wife got to see the mens gymnastic finals. While I got to see the women, and there were lots of perfect tens to look at, as well as the one scored by Nadia Comenici,

The tradition continues, my father bought tickets so I could see the games, I bought tickets so my children could see the games. And one of my daughters went to London so her children can experience the games. I wonder where the games will be that my grandchildren take their kids to

Charity begins where?

The fund raiser

Have you been to a fund raiser recently
I was out to attend one one night
I try to not attend them too frequently
As somehow they don’t seem quite right

The guests are all there in their splendour
Donating their cash and their time
Generous too to surrender
Themselves to a cause so sublime

There’ll be speakers who tell the objectives
Of the people who’re running the show
They’ll be grateful to us all selective
Who could choose and be willing to go

There also may be an auction,
Silent or run by a star
Who’ll sell, off some weird concoction
Like a licence to hold a bazaar

I wonder, and my payment pauses
How the beneficiaries feel
When the amount that goes good causes
Is no more than what goes on the meal

The mail box

If you once sent some money supporting

A charity that you admired

You’ll find that they keep on reporting

That further donations required

They’ll send you letters suggesting

You could send them money each week

Or else use your money investing

In gifts they include as they speak

Like calendars notebooks and labels

Socks and bags for your gear

I’m surprised how they are able

To pay for the postage each year