Monday, April 16, 2018

Wintry Blast

Though we have managed to escape the perils of winter for most of the season, it never fails that upon our return to Canada in April we inevitably encounter a final blast of freezing rain and snow.  Today was such a day.  Normally this would not have been of any consequence; except that today we were awake at five o'clock this morning preparing ourselves for an important visit to the Heart Institute on Ruskin Street in Ottawa.  At four o'clock this morning - as I lay awake anxiously contemplating the upcoming day - I heard the snowplow clearing the drive outside our apartment building.  By six o'clock (as we cautiously commenced our travel to the City) the rain had begun and we were being pelted by freezing crystals in addition to wayward ice scraps from the tops of passing vehicles.

The Ottawa Civic Hospital (where the Heart Institute is located) was a beehive of activity, a veritable city within a city, positively buzzing at seven o'clock this morning. But the place is uncommonly functional and it was just shy of ten o'clock mid-morning that we were again making our way along the slushy streets of Ottawa, this time towards home.   Given the relatively early hour we were still within plenty of time to put on the breakfast nosebag.  Rather than risk being caught in even more unfavourable weather we resolved to head back to Almonte immediately and frequent Mamma's Place restaurant where we have in the past boasted agreeable meals.  Nor were we disappointed this time. Not having had bacon for longer than I care to recall (which in my case may be as piffling as 24 hours), I ordered à la carte bacon, sausage, pea meal bacon, two fried eggs, tomato slices and a grilled cheese sandwich - with a cup of hot, black coffee.  It was heavenly!  Thus fortified - and having satisfactorily concluded the weighty matter at the Heart Institute about which I had admittedly been mildly trepidatious - I was poised to reward myself.

Our recent goings-on have involved more attention to ridding ourselves of debris than usual.  I am not precisely certain why this annual trek had more strength on this occasion than in the past, but we were indisputably on a roll on. I won't say that the measure of our industry was anything about which to proclaim high victory but nonetheless these minor shifts bore recognizable improvement.  For one thing we jettisoned devices which no longer work - or with which no self-respecting technocrat would engage himself.  What is it that compels us to imagine we'll ever use that out-dated stuff again?  Do we deceive ourselves to consider we'll use it when all else fails? It has the same legitimacy as keeping one half of a pair of socks for a subsequent matching orphan! Absurd!

Part of the incalculable advantage of abandoning junk is the extra space that is unwittingly afforded.  Living as we do in a relatively modest space there is some thrust to avoiding unnecessary accumulation.  Yesterday I admitted that a collection of fake flowers I had purchased two years ago had fulfilled their decorative purpose. Apart from what may possibly have been some dust there was nothing wrong with the bouquet.  But the colour required some adjustment.  I had transitioned from red - one of my favourite gemstone colours - to yellow, a popular springtime choice. The quirky thing about this particular purchase was that it took place at Dollarama in Stoneridge Mall. Over the past several years I have discovered that something the Chinese do very well is the fabrication of silk or synthetic flowers, and normally at a price which is not to be ignored.

For less than the price of a passable bottle of Scotch whiskey I have nineteen yellow roses to brighten my study.  Granted the Lalique vase helps.  But the authenticity of the humble addition is quite remarkable.  Lest this resound of a triumph of petty economy I am bound to add that my purchase of a mouse pad for $1.50 was far less successful.  Mouse pads are not what they used to be! My current ones are patented replicas of miniature Persian rugs. But try to find a plain black mouse in a simple rectangular format!  Good luck!

It is now undeniable that our current inclination for things has entered a narrow and strictly utilitarian focus.  I have withered my personal indulgences to but a few items.  One such item is watches - but not the shamefully expensive products promoted by Rolex, Breitling and Cartier - rather the perfectly reliable creations of Bulova.  Certainly I haven't relinquished my passion for the Chelsea Clock Company but I know the cast brass creations are more trouble than I now care to endure.

I suspect too that as part of my historical nomadic tradition I have swung natively to those treasures which are transportable.  This for example may account for my switch from a Steinway grand piano to an electronic keyboard (though even that has become an obstruction too inconvenient to remove from its perch). Nor can one disregard the silliness of many things when approaching a seventh decade of existence; the argument is neither intelligent nor philosophic. It appears the threat of winter is uncomfortably metaphoric!

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