Saturday, September 13, 2008

Farmer's Market (in words)

This morning, with a long, work-free weekend ahead of me, I decided to take a trip to the Calgary Farmer's Market. I had seen an advertisement for the Millarville Farmer's market at our train stop, and that is what got my thought process going, but upon looking into it further, I realized that Millarville is over an hour away, and just not logical for people with out a car like me.

Speaking of things I can do without,I have already noticed so many, being here, having little for possessions, and enjoying it. It certainly is a good thing that I am enjoying it too, as I have very little room in my budget for things often seen as needed, let alone extravagance. For example, some things I have traditionally thought I needed that I haven't while having less;

clothes hangers
file cabinet
bedside stand
bulletin board (though I have been tempted!)
body wash (soap is just fine!)
razors (TMI? I guess I am just going to go without until I cannot stand it anymore!)
umbrella (another temptation, as it rains extremely sporadically and often here. however, I
have an extremely waterproof backpack, and my body can take it. plus, it will be
my coat taking it when the snow comes!)
car (and related expenses. it has actually been quite refreshing to not have a car. I know say
that now, when the weather is relatively agreeable and there is no snow, but with reserves
of time - as I have no job and only dance classes to dictate my schedule - it is not a big deal
to have to spend an hour there and an hour back to get somewhere. it is simply another
part of a regular day)
bed frame (I bought just the cushion and laid it on the floor. it has been comfortable enough, so
why waste money on a frame that I am just going to have to try and auction off when
I leave anyway?)
cleaning supplies (lucky for me, the roommates had already bought these. I do not see the point
in this purchase until I know I need them!)
internet (this is only because we are stealers. shhhh!)

Things I have been surprised I wanted:

library card (with excess free time and little money or desire to obtain things, I found myself
happy to purchase - yes purchase, as everything in Calgary has a fee attached,
this was a meager and well worth it $12 - my library card. there is a library two
blocks down from the studio, where I can spend my time between classes reading,
using their computers and the net, read the newspaper, check out CD's and DVD's,
etc. what I am saying is that I have rediscovered both the joy of reading for
pleasure and the library)
the newspaper on an almost daily basis (going back to the excess amounts of free time point, I
guess I am not THAT surprised, but having the time
to be informed by newspapers quickly becomes an
addicting habit. I have been reading the Strib online
almost every day, and find myself buying a Calgary
Herald or Globe and Mail - the big national newspaper
based out of Toronto - almost every other day. I have
a feeling I am going to be one informed chica by the time I leave here. come on, now I have two elections
to follow)

Things I tried to go without and just plain need:

coffee maker (I went for a good week and a half without a coffee maker, buying a coffee or two
nearly every day. after accepting that this would end up costing me way more
in the long-run - yes, I realized it would, I just didn't want to accept it - I broke
down and bought a french press, some coffee and coffee creamer today at a
Walmart-like store called the Canadian Superstore. The store itself freaked me
out, all huge and too cheap and whatnot. There is a Walmart - the only one in
Calgary, complete with its own McDonalds in side like a good American company -
closer to our house, but I did not want to give my money there. Turns out that
this superstore is probably just as bad. I found a fair-trade certified coffee there -
just one - and I wanted to buy it, but it was fine grind, and the grounds would
slip right through my french press - which I am excited to try. At least I do not
have to waste money on paper and filters, yes?)
highligher (for my Calgary map, to show where I have been)
Calgary map (duh)
a shin-length coat (I have not yet made this purchase, but I am pretty sure it is going to happen.
sure, we are hearty in MN, but it gets on average ten degrees less here each
day than there, and why waste money and time on extra layers of pants?
I am sure this will feel like a monetary trade off for the fact that I will not be
protected from the cold by a car.)

Things I want to buy and cannot justify:

new dance clothes (this seems easy enough to justify, but the budget is just not there. I think I
need my occasional bottle of wine more anyway!)

Well, with that tangent out of the way, back to the farmer's market. It was a cool experience all around. My luck started off not so well - I went onto the Calgary Transit website to look up my bus route to the market (I have only been taking the train up to this point), and it was not working! After trying way too many times, I called the service number, sat on hold for quite awhile, and finally talk to a woman who gave me a route. Two mistakes in getting off the phone - one, I forgot to ask about a return route, and two, I forgot to ask if my start time of 9:30 was my walking, or getting on the bus right then. This resulted in a freaking out Erinn, trying to catch the bus. Luckily, she must have mean to start walking at 9:30, because I had it to the stop, and began to ask a woman who came to the stop when the bus comes. Long story short, we got to talking about details of finding work here, and she came from the Phillipines 6 years ago. It was a very interesting conversation, and she was very nice. The perfect kind of random encounter, as when we arrived to the train station, I took one bus, she took another, and we thanked each other for the dicussion as we walked away. My second busride there was not nearly as pleasant - a guy that had been smoking outside the bus came on and sat right behind me. I do not mind a faint smeel of smoke in general, and people have the perogative to sit wherever they would like, but this dude made we want to hurl every time he breathed. It was a lovely combonation of bad breath, overwhelming smoke, and drifting BO. I was quite happy to get off the bus when we arrived at the market.

The market, on the outside, looked like a huge warehouse. I was skeptical of its ability to charm me upon first impression, but as I approached and saw a few vendors under the colorful overhangs, my attitude began to shift. The outdoor vendors lured me inside to where the majority of the market lies (as it is open year-round on weekends, and you can imagine what it would be like outside!). Inside, there were vast rows of vendors, all cris-crossed under large, cedar-wood ceiling supports that certainly made te picture more charming. I arrived at about eleven (despite my desire to have gotten there at the 9am opening), and it was packed to the brim. Packed with old and young mothers and daughters, families, married couples, groups of friends, young lovers, all sorts of people. I am sure there were plenty of other people there alone like me, but I did not seem to notice, as I was too busy watching the relationships between people.

The vendors were mostly produce (and lots of it - everything you can imagine, and some things you cannot). There were also several stands with meat products, as Alberta is famous for its beef. The majority of the fresh stuff came from Alberta and BC. A lot of the fruit was from BC (British Columbia, a province upon whose title I have spent some time pondering. The British part makes sense, but not the Columbia part. Columbus maybe? I don't think he ever got that far. I asked one of my roommates why the province is titled as so, and they did not know. I thought to give them flack, but decided against it, because I certainly do not know why Kentucky is labeled Kentucky. Nor do I care). About half the booths were assorted produce, a fourth were goods such as bags, scarfs, etc, and the other fourth was prepared food. After my initial walk around, I was really concerned for my brains ability to decipher how to best spend the $20 dollars I had taken out (of which I did not want to spend all anyway!). My first purchase was a fabulous cappacino at a stand hailed with praise equal to that of what Kopplin's in St. Paul has received. This was due in great part to the fact that they use the same machinery - the Clover Brewing system, brews a cup at a time to temperature, grind, and seep length perfection. I got to talking with the guy at the counter about the machines, and it turns out he had made a stop at Kopplin's when in the cities for the NCAA hockey tournament last winter. What a fabulously small world we live in. He told me to apply to work at the stand, I explained my visa situation dissapointedly, but ended up walking away happy with my cappacino bliss.

I took a few spins around the place, as I can never buy anything without knowing what my other opinions are. I ended up talking at length with a nice old gentleman who had a booth for his pointilism paintings. We talked about how we found our desired corner of our respective arts, making a living in the arts, parks in Calgary, how I got here, etc. He was wonderful to talk to. I took his card and promised that I would stop back later in the year for some Christmas presents. Within the conversation, he suggested that while using my excess free time, I should check out Fish Creek park - that was where many of his paintings had taken place. He told me that from there, you could follow the river all the way into the city. This will have to be one of my weekend day pursuits. But it will have to happen before the cold! Speaking of things I want to do, another list before my worries for forgetting take over;

Things I want to do around Calgary:

Fish Creek Park (and walk up river to city)
Heritage park (Heritage Station, pick up #20 bus)
Chinook Center (Chinook Station)
Southland Center (mall right down Bonaventure from me)
Anderson library (right next to the mall)
Dinner at a spot on Stephens Ave
Lake Louise (when Kris visits?)
Banff (leaves!)

There is my short list. Things seem to identify themselves on a weekly basis, the more the longer I am here!

Back to the market. I strolled back through again, picked up some more cards as later reference for Christmas presents (I thinkI have found something for everyone already!), and ended up finally making my purchase descisions. I bought some BC cherries to take home, and a cabbage roll with kraut at a European food booth. The line was the longest I had seen in the building, so I assumed the food was good. Turns out I was right! And not only did I get good food out of the situation, but also a lovely conversation with the elder woman behind me, and another with a middle-aged asian woman and her mother at the table where I sat. She had friends in Minneapolis, talked with me at length about my experience so far, and offered me the two perogies that she did not plan on eating. I happily accepted.

One, if not the most, of my favorite parts of travelling and following your own agenda while doing so is the great conversations and moments you have with people, that last simply for the short time they occur, then those people just pass along, like a single leaf twirling down onto a huge pile you collect over the course of your lifetime (oh how poetic). Though sights are great, it is always my random encounters I remember most. I left with a satisfied stomach, some yummy cherries for later, christmas present ideas, a well-caffienated body, and a smile on my face. Luckily, the woman at the information desk had a stack of bus schedules, so she helped me figure out the way to get home. What a good morning.

Another thing I had been meaning to mention in my posts - hello election! The prime minister of Canada, Stephen Harper, announced last Sunday that Canada is having a general election. This means not only the PM, but MP's (Municipal Priniciples) and many other municipal, province, and national leaders. And guess when it is - October 15th. That's right folks, an election with just a month and a half of campaigning. CRAZY! I feel so awkward about it all - we have been bombarded with campaigning for over two years, and these crazy Northerners are going to call, campaign for, and have an election in less than two months! I am not sure if it is refreshing or disturbing. I lean on the side of disturbing. It feels a little strange to me that in a Democratic country, the head leader can just call elections whenever he wants. From my research (which I have been doing a lot of lately with my time - Canadian history and politics, Ahfgani history and politics after reading the Kite Runner, etc), I gathered that there is a general suggestion of when to have elections, but that can be ignored whenever the PM pleases. It certainly has been interesting to try and follow two elections at once. I have already submitted my registration for an absentee ballot for our election, and just have to finish up the last steps. In fact, I am probably going to do that today. Two of my roommates, this will be their first time voting - how exciting! One of the others just doesn't see how it makes much a difference, and believe me, I questioned her on that. The most interesting move of the campaign up here so far has been the ousting of the green party candidate, the only woman, from the debates by the big major parties, of which there are several. The Conservatives (or Tories), lead by Harper, stated that Harper would not take part in the debates if the green party candidate were there, and the other major parties (Democrats, Liberals - yes they are seperate parties - Bloc Quebecois - yes, the party of separatist Quebecites, ridiculous) stated that they would not take part if Harper was not there, so the TV stations planning the debates effectively asked the green party candidate to not take part. That to me is sick and unnecessary. Certainly takes warm and fuzzy points away from Harper in my book.

Other things I have been wanting to write about; marraige nightmares. I had two in the last week alone. First one: It was my wedding, and I was getting married to a guy named Nick in a mall. I was not sure which mall it was, it did not seem significant, and though in the dream/ nightmare I KNEW my fiance, I definately knew looking in that he was someone that I do not actually know in real life. It was about a half hour before the wedding, and I left to change my outfit. I cannot remember what I was wearing at first, but I switched into a lime green dress with a black lace overlay. The lime green was a long panel in the front, and super short in the back, and I had a white beater on underneath it all, finished with black heels. Strange, I do think. Nick (whoever he was) followed me in to where I was changing and tried to get me to calm down, because I was stressed about changing my outfit, and I think I said something about the fact that he was not supposed to see me. He apologized and said that he was going to head back to the wedding because we were supposed to be there shortly, and that he would see me there. I left shortly after that, only to discover that I did not know where in the mall the wedding was. I ran all over the place, upset because I had known where it was before. It got to the point where I was freaking out because it was time to have the wedding, and I just could not find it in this mall. I ended up finally locating it, and that was when the dream ended.

The second dream (two days later) involved my aunt and uncle, Lynette and Larry, renewing their vows. They decided that they wanted to have the original wedding party present, wearing the same things they wore originally. I spent the week before the renewal trying to find my old dress (which actually was an emerald green that went down to the floor, which we ended up bringing up to knee length after the wedding was over in real life. In the dream, the dress looked more like a junior bridesmaid dress my mother once wore - darker green on the bottom, a creamish green on the top). The day of the renewal, I still hadn't found it, and I was beside myself. I went on a last ditch effor to a few friends houses, never found it, went to the renewal, and ended up getting there right when it ended. This was the end of that dream.

Bizarre? Yes, I think so. Funny enough, I actually did not, and do not, have the desire to read further into these dreams. I just thought they were bizarre. I am sure most of it has to do with my thoughts of so many friends getting married, my unexpected choice to maintain my current relationship, and my general feeling of distance I am feeling for my personal desires as I watch so many around me have a wedding in their life as a fulfill their personal desires.

Thats all for now.

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