Monday, 31 March 2014

The Name Game

Today's Featured Mittens
Cranberry Frost
(But what would you call them if you were tasked with naming them?)
The Name Game: 
      I have a thing for names.  As you have you noticed if you are following my blog, I like to name things....such as mittens.  I have been slowly reading the book about the making of Cottage Craft of St. Andrews, NB.  I wonder if I have been subconsciously influenced by the poetic names given to the Briggs and Little wool used by Cottage Craft such as Fundy Fog, Briar Rose, Robin's Egg Blue, Goldenrod Yellow, Meadow Green, Black Cherry, Live Lobster, Charcoal, St. Croix Navy. etc.  The founder of Cottage Craft, Grace Helen Mowat, wanted her products to reflect the natural beauty of Charlotte County.

     Why do people name inanimate objects?  Is it because we develop such a fondness for things?  For example, many people have names for their vehicles.  Although I am not particularly interested in cars, over the years we too have named many of our vehicles.  The Sin Pit. Old Blue. Beulah.  Whitey.  The Red Bomb.  My father had a matching pair of Super 77 Oliver tractors which he fondly referred to as "Pride" and "Joy".  
You can see why....
 Super 77
Name Collection Hobby:
     I also like to collect names.  I have a list on my fridge of unusual first names I have gathered over the last couple of years.  My criteria for making the Fridge List is to be a name I have never heard of before.  Not to be morose or disrespectful, but the richest source of my name collection is the obituary column in my blessed Daily Gleaner.  Here are some of my favourites female names:
     And some male names:
     And the names of grandchildren and great-grandchildren reflect the current trend of naming children with surnames and/or place names, such as:
     Or spelling traditional names in an unusual way:
      My daughter Emma and my niece Ruthie have become involved in my name collection and are actively on the look-out for name nuggets in their own lives.  For example, Emma recently drove from Fredericton to Denver, Colorado.  She encountered Elezena at a Tim Horton's drive-thru in northern New Brunswick, gas bar manager Treasure Martin in Iowa, and Rosewita somewhere in between.  One of Ruthie's best finds was Abcde--pronounced Absidy, and La-Na,  pronounced LaDashna. "The dash ain't silent," was the explanation given by the mother.
The Same Names:
     When I worked at Fredericton High School in the early nineties, the school had a student population of approximately 3,000.  The maximum class size at that time was 33 students.  All of the grade 10 English classes I was teaching were filled to capacity and there were 3 Matthews in each class.  Matthew was a very popular name at that time in history and I imagine there were 3 Matthews in every grade 10 English class in the school.  I suggested to the administrator who made up the classes that she could easily create an entire class consisting of 33 Matthews.  Wouldn't that be fun?
Fredericton High School
     Recently, in doing a search among my friends on Facebook, I noticed I have many friends who share the same name.  I have many Annes, Janets, Susans, Lynns, Pats, Marys, Kathys, Jennifers.  I thought it might be neat to invite all my Pat friends, for example, to dinner at the same time.  Do you think they would share certain personality traits?  How confusing would the dinner be with all Pats answering at the same time?  We may have to assign numbers to each Pat in the manner described in a recent article in The Globe and Mail in which the author related her negative school experience being one of 4 Kathys in her class.  Being referred to as Kathy4 by her teacher apparently compromised her identity and crushed her individuality. 
Name Trends:
     As suggested by my experience with Matthews at FHS and my current observation of my own Facebook friends, names certainly follow trends in popularity.  This site, Name Trends, will give you an interesting look into the popularity of names over the years.  For example, you will see the top 100 names by decade since 1880.  Surprisingly, I do not see Matthew ranking in the top ten of any decade.  But there is Emma, in the top ten in the 1880s and in the 2000s.  When we named our Emma in 1987, I thought she was the only Emma in the world.  Then Rachel on Friends gave birth to Emma........  
Rachel and Emma and Friends
     The name Emma is still ranking high as a popular name this year along with Olivia, Ava, Victoria and Lucy.  Riley, Mason, Sawyer, Kaiden and Luca are the high ranking boy names at this website Popular Baby Names 2014.  Of course, different sources will give you different outcomes.
     This year on International Women's Day, The Huffington Post came up with a list of names that would give your girl baby strength from birth.  Powerful Baby Names for Girls .  The article does not really explain how they arrived at those 15 names.  The top 5 are:  Audrey, Mildred, Andrea, Bree and Brianna.  Do they sound powerful to you?

Witness Protection Name:
     Many years ago while driving to Sussex with my 10 year-old daughter Julia, she said to me, "Mom, if you had to go into Witness Protection and you had to change your name but keep your same initials, what would you pick for a name?" 
     Well, that was an intriguing question.  Before we reached Sussex, I had decided my name would be Bridget Finch.  I just liked the name Bridget, and Atticus Finch was one of my all-time favourite literary heroes.  Julia would be Jamie Matthews because she liked those names and the way they sounded together. 
Atticus Finch
      I took that little Julia Game to the classroom, of course, and challenged my students to do the same with their names.  I put a few other guidelines in place.  For example, keep your initials but change your name to a food.  Or  literary authors/characters.  Or a floral duo.  (I became Brie Fajita, Beatrice Fortinbras and Belladona Forsythia.)
     Now, how could I justify such an activity in school?  Play with words?  Language is fun?  Familiarity with authors/literary works?  We had fun with the game and there were some memorable outcomes.  We still call Alex LeBlanc "Alfredo Lasagna" and he graduated 10 years ago.  One student was a bit upset to learn she was named after a stripper.  I also worked in the idea of etymology---ie the origin of their names so students had to do a certain amount of research.  Find the etymology of your name at this website:  Etymology of Your First Name.  And I challenge you to apply the Witness Protection game to your name. 
Title Envy: 
     In conjunction with my naming obsession, I realize I have a taste for titles.  A few months ago, on the recommendation of Emma, I started volunteering at the YMCA as a "Y Ambassador".  My duty as an ambassador is to talk to new Y members to make them feel welcome, find out if they have any concerns and answer any questions they may have such as, "Where is the bathroom on this floor?"  I am by no means a fitness instructor or anything like that.  I have a two hour shift once a week when I wear my nice blue Y Ambassador T-shirt and exercise my jaw.  After only 2 shifts as Y Ambassador, Tom started calling me The High Commissioner.  I liked that even though his tone bordered on the sarcastic.  

The Fredericton YMCA
     Three weeks ago when I checked into the Fredericton airport to fly to Toronto, the man on the desk asked me if I was a lawyer.  I told him I was not but that he was probably confusing me with a local lawyer whose name is close to mine.  The man said, "Oh, okay.  I was going to call you Esquire." 
     "That would be fine with me," I answered.  "I like the sound of that."  I wanted to tell him I was an Ambassador and a High Commissioner to some but I held my tongue.  I did say, "I am not a lawyer; I am a retired teacher."
     The man actually stopped what he was doing and looked up at me with an expression of either deep respect or deep pity.  "Oh," he said with feeling, "you are much more important than a lawyer.  I have the utmost respect for teachers."  He continued to gaze me in wonder and awe.  I was almost embarrassed.  I tried to lighten the moment.
     "Yes, retired and still tired," I quipped, calling on my overused retort. 
     "I bet you are," he replied, still looking at me as if I was a survivor of a natural disaster.  "I don't know how teachers do it." 
     I thanked him and moved on, dumbfounded by his reaction.   
Fredericton Airport
      Then when I got to Toronto, I was discussing with Julia and Evan which route I should take to walk downtown to meet friends.  Should I take Beatrice Street or Grace Street?      
     "Well," Evan said, "you could take Palmerston.  It is a nice street.  They made that street wider than the others for the Queen to use when she was here."
     I immediately concluded that Evan was referring to me as a Queen
    And the next day when Julia and I went for a mani/pedi and I had 1,000 colors of nail polish to choose from, I went for Red Baroness. 
Red Baroness
       My possible titles:  Ambassador, High Commissioner, Esquire, Queen, Baroness.  You choose. 
I wake up every morning at nine and grab for the morning paper. Then I look at the obituary page. If my name is not on it, I get up.
I wake up every morning at nine and grab for the morning paper. Then I look at the obituary page. If my name is not on it, I get up.
Name Wisdom:
Always end the name of your child with a vowel so that when you yell, the name will carry. 
Bill Cosby
I wake up every morning at nine and grab for the morning paper. Then I look at the obituary page. If my name is not on it, I get up.
Benjamin Franklin

What's in a name?  That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.
 William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet

Until Next Time......

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Toronto: My 10 Favorite Things

 Today's Featured Mittens
 Black Gold
(These mittens now live in Toronto, on the hands of Megan, the Pilates Instructor)

Since I am in Toronto for a few weeks, I thought I would devote this week's blog to my 10 Favorite Things about Toronto. 

1.  Honest Ed's
This might be the biggest bargain store in the world covering a city block in the Annex, a desirable and central neighborhood in downtown Toronto at Bathurst and Bloor.  This business was established by Ed Mirvish in 1948.  You will recognize the Mirvish name as Ed and his son David have been key in building the theatre culture in Toronto.


Everything in Honest Ed's is a bargain.  For example, I have a lovely red and black checked "Albert County Plaid" jacket from Honest Ed's that cost $8.00.  Tom has a matching one in blue and black.  What a fetching fashion duo we make.

It can be a challenge to find everything you are looking for in Ed's.  It is probably there but you might have to hunt.  Just recognize that the hunt is part of the Honest Ed experience.  On my last visit to Toronto, I spent a great deal of time searching for a darning needle.  You guessed looking for a needle in a haystack.  I did eventually find one.
You will not find a number of store personnel rushing to help you.  One of the store mottoes is "We don't offer service.  We have a slogan---serve yourself and save money." Another store motto speaks to the gritty decor, crooked stairways and crowded space...."Don't faint at our low prices.  There's no place to lie down."

Literary Aside:
One of my favorite books by Carol Shields, Unless, is partially set on the sidewalk outside Honest Ed's.  I recommend both the book and Honest Ed's.

2.  The TTC:
I will admit I have a love/hate relationship with the Toronto Transit Commission. I love how it gets me around the city relatively easily but I hate the stairs, the rushing, the standing on packed subway cars.  Sometimes I love the crowds and sometimes I hate the crowds.  Sometimes I hate waiting and sometimes I don't mind that.  I do love not having a car in Toronto because driving and parking here is more than just a little challenging.
The TTC really does fall under " a good bargain" too.  Regular fare is $3.00 a ride but on Monday I bought a weekly pass for $40.00.and it has been most liberating.  It is a swipe card and I have unlimited travel for that week so I am running around the city more than ever.  And one interesting fact---1.6 million people use the TTC on a typical weekday. 

Good TTC Story:
Last year one evening I boarded the Bathurst bus at about 10 pm to return to my aunt's home for the night.  I was engrossed in knitting a sock as the bus drove north through the night.  When I heard the recording announce the next stop as Lawrence, I realized I had made some progress on the socks, but missed my stop.  Damn.  It was about 10:30 by now and the sidewalks were rather barren at this point in time and geography.  I moved up to the front of the bus to confirm with the driver that I had indeed missed my stop.  I had.  "How far back would I have to walk?" I asked the young driver.
She looked at me and replied sternly,"Oh, you are not walking back."
"I'm not?" I questioned.
"No Ma'am," she stated firmly.  "We'll get you on a bus going south.  As soon as we see the blue lights coming, I'll let you off and you can cross the street and get on that bus.  I'll give you a transfer so you won't have to pay. You are not walking at this time of night."
"Okay, thank you," I replied as we continued north.  Soon enough we saw the blue lights of the south-bound bus. 
"Here she comes," stated my guardian angel.  When I stop the bus, you cross the street and get on."
I thanked her and descended the steps of the bus.  When I crossed the street and, and out of pure stupidity,  turned the wrong direction away from the bus stand, my angel from the northbound bus blew the horn and waving her arms, directed me to the correct spot.  I got on the bus and arrived safely at my destination within a half hour.

And Not So Good TTC Story:
The other day in a Toronto snowstorm, I boarded the Bathurst streetcar en route to Bathurst Station.  I dropped my TTC token in the receptacle and reached out my freshly-manicured Maritime hand for a transfer which sits in pad-like stance beside the coin collector.  As my hand closed in on the perforated slip of paper, the driver all but yelled at me, saying, "Don't do that!  That's my job.  It is not self-serve." He did not quite slap my hand but I felt like he wanted to.
"I am sorry," I said.  "I did not know." But before my apology was completely out, I know my eyebrows shot up and I had decided his rude attitude was totally unwarranted.  I glanced at the sign on the back of his and every drivers' seat that states there is at least one instance per day of abuse toward a driver  in this system.  Hmmm.  Was his attitude a result of abuse....or .....or ??  I moved toward a seat thinking I just might be embarrassed over my public admonishment but the other passengers sat expressionless, used to such interactions, or whipped by yet another snowstorm, or totally engaged with their phones.  So I traded my Maritime sensitivity for the Toronto body armor and took my seat, crumpled transfer in hand.

3.  Harbourfront
Many of my previous visits to Toronto have been to attend the International Festival of Authors at Harbourfront.  No, I am not an author; I am an author groupie.  The IOFA runs for about 10 days in late October.  I have seen many greats such as Jane Urquhart, Margaret Atwood, David Adams Richards, Miriam Toews, Linden McIntyre, Farley Mowat, Yann Martel,Chris Cleaves, Emma Donaghue, etc, etc.  My last pilgrimage to the IOFA in 2012 was to see my hero, Alice Munro.  She did not make it due to health issues.

There is always a a CBC day during the IOFA which I am sure to attend so I can see my good friends Jian Ghomeshi, Eleanor Wachtel, Shelagh Rogers, Bob MacDonald, Norah Young, Soo Kin Lee, Jonathan Goldstein, etc, conduct live interviews and/or participate in a panel discussion. I know, some people like going to concerts; I like watching Eleanor Wachtel interview ANYBODY.


The IOFA is held at Harbourfront which is an arts/cultural centre on the lakefront.  Formerly warehouses for the shipping industry, they have been converted to provide space for cultural events, a gallery, an outdoor skating rink, restaurants and craft workshops.  For example, there is a glass-blowing studio open to public gaze. Harbourfront has become a familiar place to me.  When I am in Toronto, outside of IOFA, there are usually events to attend at Harbourfront  The other night I attended a group interview with contenders for the RBC Taylor Prize for Canadian non-fiction.  Panelists were Charlotte Gray, Thomas King, JB MacKinnon, Graeme Smith and David Stouck.  It was excellent. And, by the way, Thomas King has since won for his book The Inconvenient Indian.

4.  Bargain Manicures:
There seems to be about 4 nail spas on every block in Toronto.  Consequently, manicures are a deal--about $25.00 for shellac. I do realize this probably means unfair labor practices and poverty wages, but..... I got my nails done on day 2 of this visit so I could enjoy looking at my "Baroness Red" for the 3 weeks of my vacation. 

As most of you know, I am not the manicured type BUT I occasionally indulge so I have something visually appealing to watch while knitting.  I did get my nails done at Christmastime in Fredericton and the nail artist there said I had strong, healthy nails....shaped like Kate Middleton's.  By the time I got home from that appointment I had re-worked the story to say that the nail artist said I resembled Kate Middleton.  Well, after all, we are related; my paternal great-grandmother was a Middleton.  Do you see the resemblance?

5.  Romni Wools:
This is a huge wool shop on Queen Street West, one of the trendiest areas in downtown Toronto.  I always like to pay a visit and although I always vow to not buy anything, guess what??  I rarely walk out empty-handed.  And there is a discount section in almost every kind of store and my bargain radar always takes me there.

Last year I got the cutest children's knitting books for ONE dollar each!  This week they are having a sale on Canadian yarns.  The first one mentioned in their ad is Briggs and Little, our top-notch New Brunswick product.

 I have 2 houses full of yarn and an open-door policy for Rescue Yarn...I will take anyone's leftovers they want to get rid of.  So I will try and practice restraint when I visit Romni Wools in the next few days.
Have you any wool?
Yes Sir, yes Sir,
Two houses full.

6.  Second-hand Bookstores:
I do have a Kobo full of books I have yet to read. I also have too many books in my 2 houses.  The piles almost cause me stress as I feel pressured to get them read. However, I seem unable to walk by a second-hand bookstore without a quick look and a probable purchase.  Unfortunately there is one near Julia's apartment where I am staying.

There is a bargain table on the sidewalk and the books are only $1.  I have bought 4 so far, 2 of which I have already read but I think my friend Mary would like them.  Yesterday there was a hardcover copy of David Adams Richards book, Mercy Among the Children, one of my favorite novels of all time.  I pushed on. Left it.  Taking a different route from now on.

7. Restaurants:
There are so many eating adventures to choose from in Toronto and I make a real effort to feed my gastronomic curiosity. Brunch seems to be a favored social activity here and I have been to a few.  Last Saturday I went to the bluegrass brunch at the Dakota Tavern where my daughter is a server.  There, on the weekends, you get to listen to a live bluegrass band while digging into a plate of food that should keep you sated until the following Wednesday.  I sat close to the door hoping to catch a glimpse of Canadian filmmaker, Sarah Polley, who frequents the Dakota on weekends.  She did not arrive.

On Sunday I went for brunch with Julia and  my niece Anne at The Starving Artist.  After waiting in a line-up for a few minutes, we were led to our seats at the bar.  Walking through the restaurant I saw a young woman I know from Fredericton!  On Monday I went for brunch with my daughter Emma, who happened to be passing through Toronto, with some of her friends at the Easy on College.   And my next brunch date is at Sneaky Dees with my generous Toronto cousins, Chris and Joanne.  And then there are the lunch and dinner dates. I've done Chinese with my Aunt Audrey, sushi with Julia, pub fare with Camino friends, Mitch and Mary Lou, Fran's Diner with Julia and my cousin, Betsy.  I have a Greek lunch lined up with my niece Hayley, and a coffee/lunch date with cousin Leah at The Black Canary.  My university room-mate Diane and I have a tentative Italian lunch date.  My last scheduled lunch date is with Wilma, another Camino connection.  Then it must be time to go home to Fredericton and canned sardines.


8. Toronto Neighborhoods
Although we tend to think of Toronto as a huge city with a population of 5.5 million people and a very colorful mayor, it is actually divided into neighborhoods or villages each with its unique character.  There is the well-known Chinatown and Kensington Market....

The Annex is where you will find Honest Ed's, not far from Koreatown which has scads of fresh fruit and vegetable stands on the sidewalks.....

Julia lives in Little Italy....

and works one job in Little Portugal....

and another job in Greektown.

Somehow for me, these neighborhoods make Toronto a little more manageable and a little bit cozy. I think if I lived here, I would be able to find a Victory Meat Market and an Aura Foods within walking distance of each other.  There would probably be a nail spa and a second-hand bookstore between them.

9.  Treasures on the Sidewalks:
As you may have figured out by now, I love a bargain.  Free things are even better.  Walking along the streets of Toronto, you often encounter irresistible treasures.  My father was a junk collector of sorts and he used to say that people would "throw away a livin'!"  There was a fairly good dresser in front of Julia's apartment for 3 days which I tried to convince her to rescue.  She would have nothing to do with it.  It would not fit in my suitcase so I had to leave it.  However, a few days later, while strolling the street near one of her workplaces, we came upon a box of goods with a FREE sign on it.  I got myself 2 brandy snifters...

and a brand-new book I should have read 26 years ago.  Julia says it's too late for this book.  What do you think, Emma?  There is actually a section on the "firm handshake" which I advocate in lieu of the hug. 

10.  The Globe and Mail and the CBC:
I am mashing these 2 items together as I have not really been true to them this trip.
I confess, I have only bought The Globe and Mail once, mostly for the crossword.  I sometimes buy the Saturday Globe and Mail in Fredericton and spend the following week reading it bit by bit.  So it is not just a Toronto treat but it is OF Toronto so it sort of belongs in this blog. 
And although my Toronto schedule causes me to neglect the radio somewhat, I do feel closer to Jian Ghomesi and Mary Hynes and Eleanor Wachtel because I know we are in the same town, breathing the same frigid air.  I love the CBC all the time, not just when I am in Toronto.  But when I am here, there is the chance that I might run into one of my "CBC friends" at a Nail Spa, or a bookstore, or on the TTC., or picking up treasures from the sidewalk.  Imagine the possibility of that!

That's my Toronto story....

Until Next Time....

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Gratitude Journal: Fredericton....."These are a Few of my Favorite Things..."

Today's Featured Mittens

Grape Expectations

I have been reading a lot of magazines lately.  Somehow this winter has zapped my usual energy and concentration for reading books and I have been very slow to complete novels.  Thus the indulgence in the less demanding magazine genre.  Certain themes keep cropping up including that of "gratitude" ...the gratitude journal, the gratitude list, etc.  The question is, "What are you grateful for?"   That's not a bad exercise in thinking positive.  In a circuitous fashion, this led me to think about what I love about Fredericton.   And I do love living in Fredericton so I set about compiling a list of the top ten things I love about this little city of 55,000 people.  Here goes. The list is sort of in chronological order, that is how I experience the item/place in my day and week and season.

1. The Daily Gleaner
The first thing I do every morning, is rush to the back door to fetch The Daily Gleaner, our local newspaper.  Snuggled on my couch, sipping freshly brewed coffee, I read it in the following order:
  • obituaries
  • front page
  • first section
  • living section
I do not even open the sports section.  By the time I have skimmed the headlines and read some articles, Tom has arrived and we do the Jumble together.  I hold the paper and the pen and call out the letters to him.  Somehow he is able to unscramble the anagrams without looking at them.    If he has time before going to work, he likes to hear what helpful hints Heloise has to share.  If possible, he will stick around and help me with the easy crossword puzzle.  Once he is off to work, I do the crypto-quote and at least start the hard crossword puzzle.  Ah, the Gleaner....what a way to start the day....

2.  The YMCA
After a hearty breakfast, most days I head to the YMCA which is a mere 10 minute walk from our home.  I have been a Y member for about 30 years.  I love it and it is a very important part of my life.  I am quite inconsistent as to what I do at the Y.  I choose my activity based on which part of my body is hurting or not hurting.  Currently, I am frequenting the pool for aqua-fit, aqua-stretch and some lap swimming.  I will go through a spell when I go to fitness classes, and another spell where I use weights and machines.  The beauty of the Y is that it fits my inconsistency.  I love the variety to do whatever I feel like.  I would never join a gym that did not have a pool just as I would never live in a town that did not have an indoor pool.  The staff at the Y---from the receptionists to the janitor to the fitness instructors---is friendly and welcoming and that makes it a very inviting place for me to spend an hour or two each day.  I should add that I frequent the Y mostly in the winter months. 

3.  CBC Evening News
Five o'clock in the evening finds me in front of the TV with some of my best friends, Harry, Kalin, Jacques, Rachel, Katherine, Sonya, Robert, Bobby Jean etc.  I do not like to miss the news and these people have become an important part of my daily life.  I have come very close to embarrassing myself by assuming that if they are such an important part of my life, then I must be an important part of their lives.  So if I see Harry at the market or Katherine at the Superstore, I naturally begin to say hi and start a conversation with them.  After all, I spend a fair percentage of my day with them.  I have to catch myself and remember my relationship with them is rather one-sided.

4.  The Victory Meat Market
In the heart of downtown, this long-established grocery store has everything you need.  Covering a small floor space, you can be in and out of this store in 10 minutes with 4 bags of groceries and a most  satisfying sales slip.  You are sure to find the best deals in town, especially on produce!  Again, a 10 minute walk from our house this has become a perfect after supper outing  for us.  Tom stays outside with Nugget while I go in for the grocery items.  No muss.  No fuss.  And did I mention the discount rack?  (RFR) Always a bargain to be found.  And the staff---salt of the earth.  Although they do not know me by name, I am sure they say, "Oh, here comes that poor old lady who buys everything off the discount rack.  You know, the one with the dog....and the husband who waits outside.  Do you think she should get the senior discount?"

Literary Aside:
In 2003, Lynn Coady, winner of the 2013 Giller Prize for her book Hellgoing, edited a collection of short stories written by Atlantic Canadians entitled Victory Meat.  The cover of that book features the distinctive sign which hangs outside the Victory Meat Market.  In her introduction to the book, Coady describes The Victory as having a "gritty sort of toughness that has yet to be buffed over by the well-meaning architects of nostalgia and sentiment...It's there to sell meat, dammit, not postcards....At the same time there's a post-war, can-do sort of pugnacity about the place.  We're gonna sell the hell out of this meat and who's to say otherwise?...The Victory Meat Market is both out of, and in keeping with, the character of Fredericton----and, by extension, the Atlantic provinces---all at once.  Which in some ways makes it typical---if that makes any sense."  Lynn Coady

5.  Aura Foods
Although I do not frequent this establishment as often as The Victory, it is a constant in my life.  Here I buy my bulk food items like oatmeal, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, raisins, quinoa, rice, spices etc.  Besides the quality of the products, one thing I love about my Aura experience is the scooping of the products into the bags.  I like the tactile, physical activity of doing that!  The other thing that keeps me going back is that the people who work there know my name.  They do say, "Hi Barb,"  and sort of pass the time of day with me while I am scooping and bagging in my Zen-like state.  There is something special about that.  Good marketing.  For those of you who have never visited Aura, it is worth going there if only for the feta cheese and black olives.  And cinnamon from Aura is outstanding.  You may find it hard to believe that one source of cinnamon might be better than another, but, trust me, it is.  I've done comparative tasting.  An 8 minute walk from our house. 

6.  Dimitri's
My first choice of an eating establishment in Fredericton is Dimitris.  In the heart of downtown, this Greek restaurant delivers great taste and substantial portions for a very reasonable price.  A great bang for the buck!  The setting is cozy and the staff is friendly and efficient.  I must admit, however, that over the many years I have been patronizing this restaurant, I almost always get the same thing....chicken souvlaki platter.  Chicken skewers, Greek salad, 1/2 rice, 1/2 Greek potatoes, pita bread, tzatziki.  Friggin' delicious!  The feta, the pita bread, the Greek potatoes---outstanding!!  Good coffee and good desserts too.  Dimitris is just across from The Victory---10 minute walk from our house. 

7.  Boyce Farmers' Market
And, on Saturday mornings, the great Fredericton tradition, The Boyce Farmers' Market.  This market was rated one of the top ten in Canada recently for good reason.  Fresh and local produce is abundant and of superior quality particularly in late summer and early fall.  In addition to supporting our local economy, shopping at the market is a significant social activity in Fredericton---you will always see somebody you know.  This time of year I leave the market with the following items in my shopping bag:  smelt, Armadale yogurt and quark, Montreal bagels, maple syrup, eggs, samosas, and Villeneuve carrots if available.  Fifteen minute walk from our house. 

8.  The Trails
Fredericton has 85 kilometres of beautiful trails within the city limits.  From our house, I can head out on the trails in 4 different directions for at least an hour bike ride.  Built on the old rail bed, the trails are flat and easy biking for all.  Several kilometres of the trails are paved which makes them accessible not only to bikes, but also to skateboards, strollers and wheelchairs.  Trails follow the St.John and Nashwaak Rivers, through the city, through the woods, providing a variety of scenery along the way.  While I do not bike from November to March, I do use the trails for walking during those months as they provide a quieter option for walking than the city streets. 

9.  Odell Park
A beautiful setting for a hike through the woods.  What a treasure to have 175 hectares of woods in the middle of a city.  It takes about an hour and 15 minutes for me to circumnavigate the periphery of Odell Park with Nugget.  This is an all-season activity.  Again, a mere 10 minute walk from my house takes me to a quiet and peaceful environment where one soon forgets they are in a city.

10.  Sunset U-Pick
On the north side of Fredericton, but still within the city limits, is Sunset U-Pick where you can gather your annual supply of strawberries, raspberries and high-bush blueberries in a most idyllic setting.  The berry fields, off the beaten path, are surrounded by woods which buffers any city noise that might filter in.  Of course, you only pick berries when the sun is shining so being alone in a berry patch on a sunny afternoon where the loudest noise is birdsong is a bit like being in the Garden of Eden, I think.  Although I love engaging in this peaceful and productive activity on my own, it is also pleasant to share this activity with friends.  I try to go a few times in the "season" to get enough berries to fill the freezer so I can eat local in the winter months.   This Fredericton treasure is about a 10 minute car trip from our house.  Although the bike trail passes by the "Gates to Sunset", I have not yet fashioned a way to transport my bevy of berries on my bike.  

So that's my Gratitude Journal about Fredericton.  As you have probably noticed, one of the great advantages of living in downtown Fredericton is the close proximity to all the things I love about this little city.  Indeed, with the exception of the u-pick, we are able to access all my favorite Fredericton sites without using our car.  In fact, I find it easier to walk or bike than find a parking spot.

I draw your attention to The Wordhouse which is a book exchange site in our neighborhood where you can pick up a book for free and leave one for someone else.  This whimsical neighborhood artifact represents the warm fuzzy feelings I have for Fredericton.     

Until Next Time....