Raspberry Picking at Turcot Farm

It’s easier than picking strawberries. Less back work. And La Ferme Turcot is the only big farm with multiple products just minutes from Montreal. The staff is friendly. The owner, Monsieur Fernand, as everyone seems to call him, is the one giving the baskets. These are medium baskets and cost $10 (see above).

Raspberry season is short in these areas. It’s usually during the last 3 weeks of July. 

People usually buy the raspberries. Some bundle up to make jam with for the winter. Others make vinaigrette. There are so many uses for them.

For a nice couple of hours in the only semi-polluted near-country air, this is the best farm to go to. It has plums in the spring, berries in the summer, and late summer to early fall there are tomatoes, peppers, and aubergines. That’s followed by some amazing forms and sizes of pumpkins. 

I must say that I haven’t eaten a better tomato ever. Anywhere. Bar none. Just so sweet.

Nubian Like You

I love the colours of Nubia, the home of the Nubian people in what is now Egypt and northern Sudan. This was perhaps the first human civilization on earth. So, this is where we ALL came from. 

The great Cleopatra was from Egypt. It is the cradle of civilization. It is from here that the Greek settlers in Mycenea came from. There is still some dispute whether the Mongol settlements existed first. But one thing is certain—Europe was one of the last places settled on earth. Whites are a minority globally. 

All this to say that we are all one peoples. So let’s coexist peacefully and make our world better.

Tennessee Williams’ Catastrophe of Success

https://longreads.com/2017/07/18/tennessee-williams-catastrophe-of-success/

Four days before the 1947 Broadway opening of A Streetcar Named Desire, theNew York Times published an essay by Tennessee Williams on the depression he’d experienced after the success of The Glass Menagerie summarily ended life as he’d known it.

Fame had turned Williams into a “public Somebody” overnight, a crisis that ultimately landed him in the hospital, “mainly because of the excuses it gave me to withdraw from the world behind a gauze mask.”

The sort of life that I had had previous to this popular success was one that required endurance, a life of clawing and scratching along a sheer surface and holding on tight with raw fingers to every inch of rock higher than the one caught hold of before, but it was a good life because it was the sort of life for which the human organism is created.

I was not aware of how much vital energy had gone into this struggle until the struggle was removed. I was out on a level plateau with my arms still thrashing and my lungs still grabbing at air that no longer resisted. This was security at last.

I sat down and looked about me and was suddenly very depressed.

After spending three months witnessing inequities that felt wrong in a luxury hotel, let alone in a functioning democracy, Williams sought salvation from fame’s spiritually-bankrupt life of leisure, hoping to distance himself from a toxic setup he believed hurt everyone it touched:

The sight of an ancient woman, gasping and wheezing as she drags a heavy pail of water down a hotel corridor to mop up the mess of some drunken overprivileged guest, is one that sickens and weighs upon the heart and withers it with shame for this world in which it is not only tolerated but regarded as proof positive that the wheels of Democracy are functioning as they should without interference from above or below. Nobody should have to clean up anybody else’s mess in this world. It is terribly bad for both parties, but probably worse for the one receiving the service.

Williams suggests we should let machines take up some of humanity’s unwanted tasks, then takes a poetic detour into the consequences of that automation. Removing work from the equation of living, he observes, creates a void of paranoid inertia. Just as he concludes that outsourcing this work to fellow humans breeds depression, he notes that advances in technology designed to lighten the load often render the average person fearful of struggle itself.

We are like a man who has bought up a great amount of equipment for a camping trip, who has the canoe and the tent and the fishing lines and the axe and the guns, the mackinaw and the blankets, but who now, when all the preparations and the provisions are piled expertly together, is suddenly too timid to set out on the journey but remains where he was yesterday and the day before and the day before that, looking suspiciously through white lace curtains at the clear sky he distrusts. Our great technology is a God-given chance for adventure and for progress which we are afraid to attempt.

The essay is available online as part of The New School History Project, a site where students curate a trove of recovered archival material to provoke critical and informed discussion.

Lara, I’m Leaving —The Anti-Depressants Are Working 

It’s not your fault, Lara. You’ve been more than ample with and for me. You’ve been more than an apt partner. Perhaps it’s my fault. But I don’t think so. I’ve been borderline saintly to your whims. I’ve been too submissive to your needs. And as much as you try, you can’t understand this. You nag and question. You ask for attention while not willing to give any. And I am a man, Lara. What’s a man supposed to be like, sunshine? 

I write this because I don’t have to face your smile. You smirk so nicely. But I must digress. We only live once, Lara. And we ain’t getting no younger.  And this would have taken place a lot earlier were we both not in need. But these new meds have worked and I see the light. And in case it’s temporary, I need to air this out now that I’m in my right mind.  

I’m sure we’ll both be the better for it. 

Winston 

Zen and the Art of Flow — Overview 

You may have noticed by now that I try to write well. Well, I do.  I try to put art, creativity, and proper grammar into everything I write.  I can lose myself for hours in my writing. No matter how hurried I am or how close a deadline is, I make sure all is optimally written. This is my zone. My flow

I have my flow experience when I write. All else disappears and I am living in a perpetual moment of me and my activity. The activity needs to be interesting to me and I need to have it mastered to an extent that won’t cause distraction. As well, it needs to be something that will push you to go one step further. 

One awesome flow I crave is the one experienced by the long distance runner.  There has to be so much concentration in your mind and the endorphins must bring you to elation. A car mechanic is another person that always seems to take pride in what he does. But my first thought of a flow activity is the Bonzai tree trimmer.  Such concentration and such exactness. 

We hear of athletes who lose track of everything but the game at hand. When asked how they were able to make such an impossible play, they simply reply  “you need to be in the zone “. Focus gives us extra power and will. Losing track of time and the mundane keeps your brain healthy and your will at optimum capacity. If we could lose ourselves in flow every day, then we can empower ourselves that much more quickly. 

Flow can exist in all situations. It can help people excel in their jobs by challenging them through activities they have mastered. How many times have we been unable to complete simple tasks? We need to identify what a flow experience is and how we can use it. 

Here’s a brief history of zen.

One way to think of zen is this: a total state of focus that incorporates a total togetherness of body and mind. Zen is a way of being. It also is a state of mind. Zen involves dropping illusion and seeing things without distortion created by your own thoughts

Courtesy:urban dictionary

The Bard and the Beauty 

There are many beautiful things in the world. It was through an acquaintance that I found out about my happiness lying in living within a framework of honesty, truth, and knowledge on the one side and helping on the other. It is my job to eliminate dead ends and put forks on the road instead. 
It was after my university days that I bought a one way ticket to rural Greece and wrote 2 books of poetry and another of short stories. I lived alone in a house with limited running water, an out house for a toilet, and no hot water. I gave up many everyday things like human contact for days on end and I also decided to lose any type of footwear. No injury came to me. When I walked to main street I made sure I looked presentable, but people knew of my unique behavior and I soon had ladies bringing me meals for days on end. I made art and created great literature. 
Most of all, I experienced serenity and set out a life plan. I started helping others and it felt okay. It was a bit later that I realized that I had not empowered anyone since I hadn’t empowered myself. I continued to meditate and create. It was a bit later that I became interested in politics and participated in aiding the marginalized. 

Bucket Lists for the No-Longer-Young 

The frequency of “if I’d only known” being murmured under my breath is much greater with every passing year. Then you count the months,  till the time to count down the days comes.  Some feel it’s better to die from a heart attack. “No suffering” they say. It’s just a few moments of your life flashing before your eyes. Then, hopefully, Nirvana.  Or St. Peter at some austerity-downsized pearly gates. 

We should always take our mother’s advice. Without exception. Everything starts unraveling at 40. Your doctor visits are more frequent. Your mother’s stories are coming true. And the end, unexpectedly, suddenly and sullenly, can be seen like a not-so-distant fork on the road. And then you stop thinking of what choices that fork may give. You dread choosing the wrong one. You often wake up in a cold sweat thinking of the inevitable. 

You downgrade expectations and start making bucket lists. You need to travel to all those places you haven’t gotten around to. You need to dress better to attract the young girls who love the slightly creepy looking daddy figure. You aim hard, day and night, to get more money. More ideas. You learn the art of seduction. You become more clever. And you lose your ethics and high standards because they’ve gotten you to here. And here is not the best place in the world. 

You gain control. You splurge. You remember mother telling you that it would be exactly like this had you not listened to her. You care for yourself more. You become slightly psychopathic towards people outside your family and immediate circle. You become a metrosexual. You do every medical test available and then some, just to make sure nothing will prevent you from achieving your goals. But you leave out the colonoscopy. You’re just not ready for that one yet. And besides, you’d have to be in big pain for it to be serious in any way. Right? Don’t answer. It doesn’t matter. You somehow wish Thai food were not so greasy and spicy. Why do they think everyone has the digestive system of a 20-year-old?

You slowly realize that this is ludicrous. You’re driving yourself mad. 

Later, you realize you’ve  achieved some things. You’re now almost 70.  You don’t own a yacht, but you know people who do. You’re happy with a steady young mistress. Everyone knows but says nothing. Your medicines are keeping you in good health and your steady walks on the beach keep you in good shape. And you know you’re lucky. The thought of bed pans no longer gives you a panic attack. It only gives you a momentary face twitch until you think about the young one yet know you only love the old one. That’s the one who looks the best. The other is a distraction. Something to make you feel good. Momentarily. Yet she’s indispensable. 

You no longer look creepy. You are lucky. You have a bit more than those old men in government housing. Or the infirm. The lonely. You got through the crises of life and are ready. Unafraid. 

Make bucket lists early. And as mother said “don’t live to regret.”

Rating the Espressos 

1. Cortado 

This is the newest espresso that I hadn’t tried until today. It’s half espresso and half warm milk. In many places you are given a choice of milk, almond milk, coconut milk, etc. The almond milk one was a right amount of sweet. Pretty light, but the milky part makes it too heavy for me. 

2. Americano 

The Americano replaces the milk above with warm water. At first I blamed the local barrista for the stodgy, muddy, watery taste. After trying it in a few places, I realised that it’s supposed to be that way. I have sworn off it since. Suffering through an Americano underload is frustrating at best and irritating at worst. And as I limit myself to 2 coffees max a day, it is also a total waste of time.  It’s like drinking hot bitter water. Adding sugar makes it similar to drinking hot bitter water with some sweetness. Ugh!!!

3. Double Espresso Long 

My favourite cup of coffee. A feast for my taste buds and a delightful antidote to my 9 AM drowsiness. The best part is that, even at double the straight size, it’s still a very small cup of coffee that you savour. Unfortunately, it’s difficult for me to drink it at the acceptable lower speed. 

4. Espresso 

This is the simplest and healthiest cup of coffee in the world. It makes me think of Italian guys at a traditional café drinking it slowly with their pinky finger up in the air. It’s just too small for me to receive pure enjoyment from it. 

5. Freddo 

The latest cold coffee fad is the cold espresso kind called a freddo  (which means cold). As far as cold coffees go, this is not enjoyable because it tastes just a bit better than a cold Americano.  For cold coffee, a frappé is by far superior. 

Two Reasons I Go to the Café 

Cafés have been, for over a century, the focal point for meeting up with townsfolk, friends, to just sit back, etc…  We choose where to go depending on the café type and the demographics of the clientele. 

When I go to the Italian coffee shop, I expect to see some serious older guys mixed with well-dressed young men. It’s a busy place with a lot of talking. Everyone’s friendly but also demand respect. And you’d better know your coffee. 

When I go to the Greek coffee shop, I see much younger people who want to keep their Greekness amidst the deluge pulling them otherwise. It’s a relaxed place where engagement is expected but not demanded. The coffee knowledge here is very basic compared to the Italian café. 

Then there’s the fancy coffee chain experience. No one talks much. WiFi use is almost compulsory. And very often, noise is frowned upon. I’d love to see 2 traditional Italians in there. 

Now for my reasons for going to the café. The best reason is that air of creativity that comes upon me. And it comes by drinking the coffee.  It stimulates me and brings out those hidden creative endorphins. The second is to watch and talk to girls on their computers or cell phones. I ask them an open-ended question, wait for their response, follow it up with a question they have to answer yes, then I ask another open-ended question, followed with  “perhaps we should meet another time to continue this because I need to go now. Chances are she’ll answer yes.