I had all of my windows open for a while on Saturday morning but the air cooled down a couple of hours after sunrise, so I closed them again. It was quite warm outside though by the time I left for the food bank at around 9:30. I took my place at the end of the line of unaccompanied carts, but then some of their owners gathered to smoke nearby along with two of the volunteers, Lana and Angie. Someone offered Angie a cigarette but she declined and explained that someone had given her the expensive kind. In her hand was a rolled up sheet of paper towel, which she unrolled to reveal two cigarettes. I stepped upwind from the smoke and found a sliver of sunlight to stand in at the edge of the shadowy southern sidewalk. While there I read the last pages of Honoré de Balzac's “The Atheist’s Mass" and finally found out why the atheist had paid for a mass to be said four times a year. It was because when he was a struggling and impoverished medical student he was taken in by a poor water carrier who became as a second father to him and sacrificed everything to help him become a surgeon. The water carrier was a devout Catholic and so when he died the surgeon, even though he was not a believer, paid for the mass as a tribute to the man to whom he owed his career.
While I was reading, Moe came up to say hi. We started shaking hands but then he slid his hand past my grasp and gripped my arm just past the wrist and so I did the same, assuming I was being introduced to a secret handshake. He explained though that he’d spilt beer on his hands while collecting the bag of empties that he was now carrying to cash in at the Beer Store and he didn’t want to get the beer smell on my hands. Why would someone want to smell like beer on one’s forearm any more than on one’s hands?
I remembered that the last time I’d seen Moe a couple of months ago it had been me that had to call out to him because his eyesight had gotten so bad that he couldn’t recognize me. At that point he’d been waiting to go in for cataract surgery. He told me he’d just had the first operation and now he could see much better out of his right eye and can now walk around outside at night, though the surgery didn’t fully take because he’s seeing floaters and so he’ll have to go under again. He said he has to go to St Joseph’s Health Centre once a week to have it looked at to see whether it’s healed enough for the next phase. He’s still mostly blind in his left eye and so he’ll need the same procedure again.
Moe commented that there are a lot of things happening this weekend in Toronto. He mentioned Salsa Fest and a Greek festival. That last one puzzled me because the Taste of the Danforth isn’t until August. I think that he was talking about the Taste of Lawrence festival. I was surprised when he told me that Lawrence and Victoria Park is a Greek neighbourhood but when I looked it up later I saw that next to Greektown on the Danforth the Wexford area around Lawrence and east of Victoria Park has the second largest Greek community in Toronto. As a matter of fact, Greek is the most common second language throughout all the neighbourhoods of East York.
Moe moved on to cash in his beer cans. I was still in line when he came back.
Martina arrived with Valdene in the food bank van and after helping to unload it she announced that entry into the food bank would be entirely according to place in line because there were too many missing numbers.
The line started moving a little before 11:00. Once I was second in line and near where Martina was standing, I asked her if the number system is dead now. She said it was for that day. She pointed out that some people don’t like the number system. I think the only people that don’t like it are those that still come so early that they will always be in the single digits in a first-come-first-serve system. I told her that I like the number system and she declared that was good to hear because she likes it too because it discourages people from lining up too early in front of the building. I added that he prevents disputes over places in line, makes people feel less like cattle and it’s also kind of fun to be surprised about what one’s number is going to be, like in a lottery. She informed me that they’ve bought some plastic cards to replace the arborite ones but they have yet to number them. I mentioned that they don’t always ask for the numbers back downstairs and that I almost walked away with my number once. I reminded her of my idea that to avoid losing the cards she should take the numbers back at the door each time she calls them. She thought that was a good idea as if I hadn’t offered it to her before. Maybe she hadn’t been listening.
Martina let the next two people go downstairs, which included me.
From the shelves I got a bag of tea bags; a bottle of chipotle Tabasco sauce; a box of 100% bran cereal; a can of organic chilli with tofu of all things; a can of chickpeas and a can of tuna.
The most curious shelf item was a bag of granola packaged for Hope 4 All, with a Biblical quote on the front and another on the back. The company that provides all their food is Sunny Crunch Foods, which has their own products but also helps other companies make their own brands and packaging. They’ve been in Markham since 1970. Sunny Crunch was founded by Willie Pelzer, whom one tribute claims invented granola, but granola goes back to the 19th Century in the United States. His son Rich Pelzer is now the president.
Hope 4 All’s website has the same two Biblical quotes. It seems that their mission is distributing food to the needy and they say they help people of every religion. It’s a safe assumption though that their helping of people of other religions is not an acceptance of those other religions as being paths to salvation.
Their website links to two churches:
One is Freedom Centre in Oakville. The Freedom Centre website has a prominent photo of a couple named Rick and Kalina D’Orazio. Rick is listed as the senior leader and Kalina is mission leader. Their church seems to believe in the imitation of Christ; they believe that both the old and new testaments are the inerrant word of god; they believe in demonstrative Davidic worship which involves clapping, shouting, singing, dancing, bowing and banners.
The other link goes to Catch the Fire Toronto, whose founding pastors are John and Carol Arnott, who embrace the message of intimacy, soaking, and healing and freedom of hearts.” The church is a charismatic Christian church. They were originally part of the worldwide collective of evangelical Vineyard Churches. Apparently they got kicked out of Vineyard though because there was a little too much falling, weeping, laughing, holy drunkenness, being slain in the spirit, speaking in tongues and shaking going on during their services.
When I got to Angie’s section she asked me how many books I read in a week. She sees me reading all the time and logically assumes that I’m reading a lot of different ones. From September to April I’m reading lots of books for university but I didn’t tell her that. I explained that I just read the one French book every time I’m in the line-up.
Angie gave me 750-gram container of Liberté Greek yogourt and here we are talking about the Greeks again. Greek yogourt is made with three times more milk than regular yogourt and has twice as much protein. Liberté is headquartered in St Hubert, just across the river from Montreal where there are also lots of Greeks, although it’s not a Greek company.
She handed me a bag of three eggs, which I put in my right pants pocket to keep them from being crushed in my bag. One of them got crushed in my pocket but it had only slightly started to leak once I got home. I managed to salvage most of the white and the broken yolk though.
I also received a bag of sixteen stringable cheese sticks; a frozen salami sausage and a 1.75-liter carton of grape juice.
Sylvia gave me a handful of potatoes; one large, firm carrot and one smaller rubbery one; a couple of onions; one corn on the cob; one yellow and one green and red heirloom tomato and a little pack of hummus with pretzels by Sabra, the company that helps occupy Palestinian land.
At the bread section Lana offered me, “Some of that brown bread that you like” but I told her I had enough. I wondered though what the little packages were in a box on the floor. She told me they were mini cinnamon rolls and that they’re delicious. I asked her how she knew they were delicious if she’s diabetic. She said, “I’m not diabetic!” and shattered another of my illusions. I guess I'd made the assumption based on her having said of a sugary food item “They tell me it’s good", her being Native and my hearing Sylvia say, “She’s diabetic” which I'd thought had been in reference to Lana. When I repeated, "I thought you were diabetic" Sylvia spoke up in between bites of one of the cinnamon rolls, "I'm diabetic!" "You're diabetic? So how come you’re eating the cinnamon roll?" She told me, "It's okay to have a little bit, and besides, cinnamon is good for diabetes”. I thought regarding Greeks and cinnamon, “This has been a day for learning things!” But really, though it would be cool if cinnamon helped against diabetes, it sounds like a bullshit belief. When I looked this up I found that one study found that cinnamon reduced cholesterol by 18% and blood sugar levels by 24% but other studies showed that cinnamon had no effect whatsoever on cholesterol or blood sugar levels. It’s always the way with the media when they catch hold of one study with sexy results, even if subsequent studies contradict it, suddenly it’s a fact. They did the same thing with the Mozart effect. There was only one study that found that listening to Mozart raises one’s IQ while no study after that found that Mozart had any effect on intelligence whatsoever. It might not have even done much for Mozart. I took three of the little bags of cinnamon buns.
After putting my groceries away I rode down to No Frills. Grapes were pretty expensive but I got three bags anyway. It seems to be the only fruit that I consistently feel like eating these days. Maybe when the Ontario peaches and plums are harvested in August that will change. I got a little bag of lychee nuts, which were very tasty. I also bought coffee, milk and a side of pork ribs.
Late that afternoon I took a bike ride. On Bloor Street at around Ossington I was passing a guy dressed in fluorescent green and soon as he saw me on his left side he began speeding up as if we were in a race. I got past him but he jumped a light and got ahead again. When I caught up with him once more he was desperate to get ahead and went in front of a car. Another cyclist went to the left of the car and when it went ahead she suddenly veered back into the bike lane and almost hit me. I’d almost caught up with the fluorescent guy when he turned right.
For a couple of blocks leading to Woodbine the street was blocked off for the Danceforth festival. There was one stage at West Lynn where the barriers began and a band was playing with hardly anybody in the car free street. I walked my bike for a short distance but then rode past the bored looking cop to Woodbine and used the washroom at the Firkin.
I rode up Pharmacy and explored the four-block area from Donside north to Florens and from Pharmacy east to Presley. Then I took Pharmacy back south so I could scoot down the hill at Donside.
The Starbucks on Danforth has one regular that I see often when I stop to use the washroom. It’s a little old man at least in his 80s with a very long beard and a walker.
At around Pape two young shirtless cyclists of perhaps Greek or Portuguese descent shot past me and were ahead until Broadview when they hesitated and I passed them before the viaduct. Just before Yonge Street they passed me again. It was very annoying riding behind them because they kept slowing down and looking back and then speeding up again. They weren’t looking back at me though and I was starting to wonder if they’d stolen their bikes or were being pursued for something. They veered off the bike lane around St George and crossed the street.
When I got home I went to the liquor store to buy two cans of Creemore, one of which I put in the freezer so it would be extra cool for dinner. I had two sunny-side-up eggs and one broken one with toast while watching two episodes of Dobie Gillis.
The first story explains ho Dobie got his name. His mother named him after a Nobel Prize winning physicist. At the time that he’d won the prize Dobie’s mother had asked the man if she could name her baby after him. He gave his permission on the condition that she write to him and give him reports as Dobie grew up. Suddenly the scientist is about to retire from the public eye to build a hospital in the Amazon and he wants to meet Dobie before he leaves. Dobie goes to New York and meets the man. The press is outside of the scientist’s office and Dobie will be the only one to speak with him. The scientist asks Dobie what he thinks the world really needs to achieve peace. Dobie hesitates and then answers that people should be kind to each other, have a dream and believe in that dream. Everyone outside is waiting for a final message from the professor but he tells Dobie to give that message to the media while he slips out the back door.
In the second story Dobie gets a summer job at a lumber company with the help of a girl he likes named Gloria who works as a waitress in the cafeteria there. He expects an office job but winds up as a janitor. However, when the president’s daughter Pamela needs help moving some things from the plant to her home, Dobie steps in and she thinks he’s cute. She immediately gets him a promotion while he keeps ditching the waitress. Maynard convinces him that he’s being a cad and he tries to go back to the waitress but she won’t take him back. When she does decide to take him back he’s already dating the rich girl again. In the end the waitress and Maynard are both kicking Dobie with army boots.
Gloria was played by Nancy McCarthy, who was cast around that time to be in the Dobie spin-off series, “Zelda”. Later she was a secretary named Bunny in the pilot for Gilligan’s Island but they recast several characters before the show was picked up. I guess Maryanne was her replacement.