Category Archives: connections

The next chapter: moving rural (2)

Community in Carrying Place

We have stepped into the pages of a novel filled with richly drawn characters – more than a hint of Stephen Leacock, but giving life too to my reading of Mary Lawson (writing about a more northerly Ontario rural community), Robertson Davies’ Salterton Trilogy, Monique Proulx’s Laurentian forest folk. I think perhaps it is easier to live in an unconstrainedly authentic way outside a city. Whether this is because of the people this life attracts, the grounding effect of an ever-present awareness of the natural world, less pressure from the tyranny of ‘nomal’ or something I do not yet understand I am not sure.

I love that there are farming families who have been here for generations, with a deep knowledge of and love for the land. There are those who left but felt the tug of their roots and returned, those who came thirty or twenty years ago, those who drive five hours each way every summer weekend from Pennsylvania or western Ontario, and newcomers like us – a healthy mix that includes at least a little multicultural leavening. It is good to know that about 60% of us are permanent residents.

The community is drawn from all walks of life; as well as the farming families we have so far met a lawyer, a civil servant fresh from a posting as Consul General, the published author of a fantasy novel, a forensic psychologist, a tech entrepreneur, a lawyer, a physiotherapist, a wonderful character with many stories to tell who described starting adult life as a ‘huckster’[1], the Chinese owner of a local fishing lodge and his wife who runs an LED import business, a couple with a tech background who have a smallholding with a straw-bale home, and more.

One eighty-year-old neighbor settled here with her ex-naval husband after travelling the seas on a schooner he built. She is on intimate terms with the raccoons, as well as the ubiquitous chipmunks and squirrels, and has this summer permitted the construction of the Groundhog Hilton in her rockery, though she plans a forced resettlement of the young engineer next Spring.

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The pot of honey and card that arrived on our doorstep between our pre-closing inspection and our return from the lawyer with the ‘keys to the kingdom’ were no one-off. There is a genuine kindness and warmth that seems to characterize our new ‘hood; people take care of each other. There will always be someone willing to share their knowledge or who can help with the things that need doing. And there is something pretty awesome about setting out for an evening paddle and ending up getting to know new neighbours over a beer on their island party deck!

[1] Dictionary definition of huckster: retailer of small articles, especially a peddler of fruits and vegetables; hawker.

Zoomer TV Debut on CARP Infomercial

A couple of months ago we attended a recording for CARP of an informercial featuring Matt Dusk. As part of the deal, each attendee was asked to contribute a soundbite relating to their interest in CARP – and they used mine! You can view this on YouTube (I haven’t yet watched the whole piece, which is heavy on advertising, but this links to my few seconds!)

CARP is the Canadian Association of Retired Persons,with a remit that covers issues of concern to those over 45 and no bottom limit for membership. It is  based around advocacy, benefits and community, though as a non-profit, its close connections with the commercial agenda of Zoomer (magazine and broadcasting, headed up by Moses Znaimer) sometimes feels a little uncomfortable.

My interest is a real sense of passion for changing the way our society perceives and responds to aging and a return to a recognition of the value and wisdom that older people can contribute. So CARP is quite a key organization for me to have connections into as I move forward and find my place in the next stage of my life.

Idea City 2010

IdeaCity is an awesome three day event, bringing together an assortment of thinkers and entertainers from the broadest spectrum of backgrounds imaginable.

I’m not sure I’ll every afford to be there as an attendee (door price was $4000 this year), but I grabbed the opportunity to volunteer this year. I was fortunate enough to be put on ‘usher’ duty on the afternoon/evening shift. This meant that I got myself in for the morning sessions each day (8:45) as a member of the audience. Then, from 1:30 until anywhere between 8 and 9pm, I was on duty but able to give at least part of my attention to the stage. Each night, there was then a party, which was open to volunteers as well as to attendees and speakers.

Our house has been ‘warmed’!

Some thirty friends, neighbours and acquaintances (plus small children) warmed our first Canadian home by their presence on Friday evening.

We were thoroughly spoiled, not just with bottles of wine but with a number of more personal gifts – totally unexpected and heartwarming. Paul’s Tyco colleagues live at some distance, so didn’t make it, but we were taken completely by surprise by the appearance of an ‘Edible Arrangement’ from them on our doorstep, a lovely gesture which we much appreciated. It made a great addition to the spread of finger foods I’d prepared. I’ve never really done this kind of food before, more usually offering a full buffet, but received good reviews!

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The party ran from 6pm, as we know many of our neighbours have young children – till 8 or so, there was a pleasant pandemonium!  It was an interesting experience to open the door to one or two people we had never met (we invited all our closest neighbours in our street, as well as a couple who had contacted us by e-mail to welcome us), but it worked well. We were also really pleased to be able in some small way to say thank you to the many people who have been so supportive during our first few months.

As often happens, a smaller group of closer friends stayed on, with the party winding down by around 11.30. This was perfect, as Paul had an early start to go to PodCamp on Saturday morning (a podcasting and social media conference). And we also had a party to go to in the evening (champagne cocktails to chase away the ‘winter blahs’), as well as a gala opening at a friend’s gallery – busy days!

More highlights and milestones

  • Eating Poutine, a cholesterol laden Canadian snack speciality consisting of fries (chips), gravy and cheese curds. I wasn’t sure about the idea, but actually we really enjoyed it and will now seek out more authentic renditions.
  • Becoming annual members of the Art Gallery of Ontario – this will allow us gradually to enjoy and absorb what is a really interesting and well curated collection. The new Gehry Galleria Italia is a fabulous space, currently housing a magical sculptural exhibition of trees re-visioned (we loved this)
  • Buying my first pair of ‘leisure skates’ – my UK figures boots are just too uncomfortable!
  • Skating on a natural rink in Glen Stewart park at the foot of a ravine that drops a way just below where we live – steep wooden steps lead down into a magic woodland walk by a stream, currently flowing between snowy banks we were the only people on the ice – magic!
  • Commitment (voluntary) to a local community arts/regeneration project, Art of the Danforth, an art walk planned for April (I’m sure I’ll write more on this as things develop!)
  • Entertaining our first guests in our new home on Friday evening, genuinely a delight!
  • Getting our OHIP cards – we are now covered by the Ontario Health scheme. But with a shortage of family doctors, finding one is the next challenge.

Coming up we have:

  • Toronto’s Winter City festival – spectacle, music, multi-culturalism and more!
  • Winterlicious, (part of the above) Toronto’s winter food festival, a fabulous chance to try new restaurants at very affordable prices. We have, over the two week period, booked two lunches and two dinners, including lunch at Canoe, arguably Toronto’s top restaurant (Jess ate there back in September and is still raving about it!)
  • Music and multi-media show at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts