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the cheese chronicles

Was awakened at six by a scrabbling sound right outside my bedroom window. What the … I opened my window and was face to face with a raccoon, obviously thwarted by the freshly-laid axle grease on his usual downspout, climbing up the other downspout next to my bedroom. As I said, the beasts are invincible. Today I bought a fresh supply of axle grease for the creature’s new highway. The man in the hardware store tried to sell me $50 worth of spikey things, but when he heard my simple and inexpensive plan, said he was going to recommend the grease solution to others. Let’s hear it for axle grease. Mind you, after this post, I’m Googling “How to remove axle grease from clothing.”

After the hardware store I went to the little deli the Epicure on Parliament Street for bread, and wandered over to their cheese display, which I usually ignore. Well bless my buttons – not bad at all. I bought a Morbier, a chevre and some Canadian Oka and had them, nicely softened, after lunch. Forget all that about not bothering to buy and eat cheese – that was a brief moment of discouragement and madness. There will be cheese. A friend just told me about a great cheese shop, specialising in Quebecois cheeses, on Church Street, not far from here. There’s good cheese everywhere in Toronto, I just wasn’t looking in the right places.
Lunch, by the way, after a grocery shop at No Frills, was three of of North America’s greatest contributions to world cuisine: grilled hamburger with ketchup and fresh corn. I have missed corn, and, yes, ketchup. Yum.
Before that I went for my usual half-hearted, meandering jogette down our side of Riverdale Park and up the other side, to Riverdale Hill, where there’s an extraordinary view of the high rise towers of downtown Toronto. What I do miss and need is the open sky, so cherish places where it’s visible, that comforting canopy. The other side of the park is one.
This morning, I woke to an almost silent city. It’s the Sunday of a long weekend, a hot, sunny long weekend when most of the city is at the cottage and the Don Valley Parkway nearby, for once, is nearly quiet. Oh my friends, despite the raccoon outside my window, despite the chaos here, the mountains of clothes to give away or sell, the rotting basement, the overgrown garden, the lack of sky – it is unbelievably good to be home.
Friend Bruce called this afternoon, to tell me he and his brother Stan and sister-in-law Carolyn are still following this blog faithfully. I thought that now there are no exciting overseas adventures and great art to note, my readers would vanish. But perhaps, a bit of ordinary chronicling isn’t too dull. A lifelong diarist, I no longer keep a diary, I keep a blog, so it’s still is important to me, despite the time it takes, to keep track of the day to day in this public way.
Stan, Carolyn, Bruce and whoever else is out there, if you’re still up for reading, I’m still up for writing.
For now.



2 Responses to “the cheese chronicles”

  1. patsy says:

    another blog fan, still following your trail/tales with pleasure, from Gabriola Island – and with sympathy re the raccoon/human ever permeable boundaries. They are called "washing bears" in some cultures – they really are related to bears, though the "washing" part is, I believe, somewhat over-rated, witness my cats' dishes on the deck, which are always filthy after being raided by the neighbourhood raccoon family. I know two gardeners here who camped out under their fruit trees for several days (one very ladylike woman armed herself with a baseball bat) to protect their harvest from those clever critters who have some sort of gene that detects sugar content before we do. I turned to a book by one of the original gardeners who created the San Fransisco Zen Centre's Green Gulch Garden, who advises putting a three-foot-long smooth cylinder (like stove pipe) around the tree trunk about two feet above ground height – but warns that they may well out-manoeuvre this ruse, too. I'll pass on your axle-grease trick to my Gabriola gardeners, and to you, this advice from a Tibetan lama: when you are dealing with other beings who desire the same food you do, remember that you are forming a relationship with that other being that will last for ever, through many lifetimes (and in which one of which, you may be the raccoon, slug, gypsy moth, etc.). Meanwhile, step back from the battle every once in a while and find the humour in it: me, with my arms over my head, growling at this cute little creature who retreats about six feet then stands watching me with curiosity – who does she think she is?


  2. beth says:

    Thank you, blog fan, for advice and comfort. Yes, Toronto raccoons find us surly two-legged creatures amusing. What I learned today is that the people who were renting the house thought the raccoons were adorable, and so a mother and her six, apparently, six adorable babies spent the summer living on the balcony outside my bedroom.

    We're not fighting for food – I gave up trying to grow anything edible except mint in my garden years ago, after finding it all gnawed. We're fighting for space; they want my balcony, where they like to relieve themselves on the way to their sleeping corner. And I would prefer that they live in the thick ivy, where it seems to me there's lots of room. The downspouts have become our battleground.

    So in my next life I might be a large insect. I wish I weren't quite so determined to eradicate the ones that want to live with me, but I am.

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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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