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Notes From my Neighbourhood

My neighbour-across-the-road, E. (not to be confused, by long-time readers of this blog, with my "silly neighbours-at-the-bottom"), is a darling: kind, generous to a fault, always keeping an eye out for people in a caring rather than nosy way. She is not, however, exactly the brightest woman I know. She's only ten years older than I, but in some ways reminds me of my mother in her ingrained helplessness. Anyway. She has a computer, which she uses effectively for email - her son is in Japan, and other relatives are in Sweden. Although I doubt that she's at much risk for viruses (hardly the sort to be downloading porn), she has been faithfully using Norton Anti-Virus for years, and equally faithfully trotting her computer down to Future Shop to have it installed, to the tune of $60. When I found out about this, I told her that she must NOT, repeat NOT pay that much for something that takes five minutes to do, and offered to help her out. The evil acquisitiveness of Future Shop is further enhanced by what followed: when she went to buy this year's update, it was sold out. They had another brand, but told her that she would have to uninstall Norton, which would, of course, necessitate her bringing in her computer, and a further charge. They see her coming. However, luckily she asked me first and I told her to do nothing of the kind and that I would do it for her, too. I think she felt a bit silly when I showed her the two seconds it took to uninstall Norton and the few minutes it took to install the new software.

Yesterday, I was buying groceries at Thrifty's, and completely captivated by the manner with which the check out person packed them. She did them with such flair, as if she were expecting to get points for style. Each bag (Thrifty's encourages us to bring cloth ones), was deftly folded at the top. Each item was eyed, carefully judged for weight, size and vulnerability and placed very deliberately in the appropriate bag with hands held just "so," fingers tips pointed gracefully and lightly. She was an unprepossessing looking young woman, rather stodgy, scowling with concentration, but when I told her how impressed I was by the style of her packing, her face lit up, and she was beautiful.

Down the south end of the Quadra St strip, next to the Roger's Video Store, there is a new, fairly up-market liquor store, filled with organic wines, small brewery beers and high-end gin. Readers of my blog will not be surprised to hear that I am delighted by this development. Last night, I dropped in, after picking up a video to watch over the weekend. It was doing a roaring trade - working class neighbourhood? Friday night? Of course! But I found myself wondering, as young men whiffing of BC bud walked out with cans of Coors, whether we are quite gentrified enough for what is obviously an establishment with some pretensions to style. Oh well, time will tell. They'll do good business, I'm sure. And perhaps there will be enough customers like me, willing to try saffron gin and happy to buy organic wine, to justify keeping those delights in stock.


( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 9th, 2010 10:23 pm (UTC)
The checkout person sounds like someone who used to work at the Fairway's in Oak Bay. She was the only one I've ever seen who eyeballed the groceries first so that she could pack them in the correct order. Her system was a thing of beauty.
Jan. 10th, 2010 12:00 am (UTC)
Good heavens! How is that I had no idea we lived in the same city? I guess I'm on your "icons" filter and have not really ever read you talking about yourself. And your profile is enigmatic. Anyway ~waves~!
Jan. 10th, 2010 02:05 am (UTC)
:D I don't keep my location a secret but there isn't much 'real life' stuff on my journal (unless I post photos to brag about the climate or the gardens).
Jan. 9th, 2010 11:44 pm (UTC)
Good for you for rescuing your neighbor from the evils of corporate pay-us-money-to-keep-you-helpless greed.
Jan. 10th, 2010 03:33 pm (UTC)
What a wonderful story about the checkout woman! And how a word of admiration for a job well done makes a person blossom with happiness. There--that's just wonderful. You made a flower bloom. Beautiful.

(And nicely packed bags really are impressive.)
Jan. 10th, 2010 03:34 pm (UTC)
I'm very curious, also, to hear about saffron gin!
Jan. 10th, 2010 03:38 pm (UTC)
I tried it on the recommendation of noveldevice, who is a fellow gin afficionado (sp?) At first I thought I wasn't going to like it, but it's growing on me - a warm, spicy under-note to the gin. And of course it looks beautiful when mixed with tonic.
Jan. 10th, 2010 03:49 pm (UTC)
Sounds intriguing!
Jan. 11th, 2010 04:38 pm (UTC)
I do love to watch anyone do anything well, however humble the task may seem.

I have always remembered a bit in Ondaatje's Coming Through Slaughter, a description of a woman cutting up carrots in an assured and automatic way, the beauty of the action. In a book about music and the madness of genius, the scene is both simple and moving. Have you ever read Coming Through Slaughter? It's fantastic.
Jan. 12th, 2010 01:27 am (UTC)
You know what? I haven't. And I've read a lot of Ondaatje and love him. I'll have to put it on my "to read" list (along with 15,000 other things, of course)
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )


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