Tag: cathedral village

R Streets R Stories

You can thank Sheri for that title – we used it as a hashtag for the Cathedral Village Arts Festival this year, and as an abbreviation of our theme, Our Streets Are Stories.

I always look forward to the CVAF anyway, but this year was extra special because I got Involved again and volunteered as the communications coordinator for the festival. This involved the usual social media effort, manning the Twitter and Instagram feeds while managing to keep myself as far removed from Facebook as possible. My alter ego on there suddenly became alarmingly popular though! This was a thinly disguised excuse to have an official reason to go out every night of the week and pack in as much festivalling as possible. I was creating valuable live coverage, honest! I even got an all access pass! (to a free festival).

I also had to help write press releases and schedule interviews with local media. Sheri (the chairperson) and other members of the planning committee were shunted off to TV and live radio interviews, frequently at horrendous times of the early morning. I did one myself too, at 6.45am on a Tuesday on community radio, practically guaranteeing me an audience of bus drivers and unfortunate Tim Hortons workers.

All these efforts paid off though, and the turn out was HUGE, despite the weather not being as exceptional as last year.  One key message we tried to emphasise in our media briefings was that the festival is #AllWeekLong. So many people still seem to think the festival is just the Street Fair on the last Saturday, when there are arts, dance, theatre, literature, music and film events on every evening for the whole week. Here’s a small sample…

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My parents arrived the first evening of festival week! A great way to start their summer holiday and I made sure to drag them to as many events as we could. They both even wrote and read poems at the poetry slam just 24 hours after their arrival! Poems had to be on the theme of ‘our streets are stories’ again. Here is my effort:

Cathedral Stories are worthy of glory
My poetry usually is not
While trying to avoid complication
I went for literal interpretation
The point of which I forgot.

It’s easier to start with a question, she says
How about, ‘What’s the word on the street?’
SLOW
or sometimes
‘No Parking’

At this time of year
Stranger signs start to appear
One popped up today
A stencil, sprayed, just outside Safeway
“It’s Good To Be Alive” the street seems to say.

Our cathedral story truly began
Five years ago
Returning from another poetry slam
Or was it just burgers in here?
Memories fade, the details unclear
But walking home we were
Small girl complaining
It had started raining
Small girl stops, plastic jacket undone
Not caring, while I start quietly swearing

She sits on the curb
In a puddle, plants her feet
And starts reading her book
In the middle of the street.

 

 

 

 

Home

Holy frijoles, three months since my last post? Oo eck, better get typing.

This is a bittersweet post because I have lots of things to be cheerful about and one big thing that is making me miserable. Let’s dwell on the positive for now!

Here is the positive:

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We bought a house!

I even mentioned it as a remote possibility in my last post – the permanent residency approval meant we were finally eligible for a mortgage. We had actually seen the house up for sale at Christmas when The Parents were here (for they are the sort who casually look up house prices “just to check”) but at the time we assumed it was all in the realm of fantasy. By the end of March, with residency approved, we discovered that not only was the house still on the market, it had also been reduced by $20,000. After consultations about help with the deposit with my wonderful and very generous parents, we put in an offer for another $10k less, and incredibly it was accepted the same day! The house was empty anyway and of course we had no property of our own to sell, so the sale went through very quickly and we actually completed and took possession within 3 weeks of putting the offer in! Naturally though, (and seemingly just because this involved me) there were quite a few last-minute bureaucratic tangles to deal with, and physically moving our stuff with two kids was an absolute nightmare. Theia has learned to crawl, and is close to walking now too. She got in Every Single Box as we packed. Ugh. Exhausting. But, we are in!

The house is blue and seemingly bigger on this inside, therefore, it is a Tardis house. There is more than enough room for The Parents to visit and stay long term, and we could even lock them comfortably in the attic if needs be. There are plenty of odd and unusual features like a full bathroom with claw-footed bath inexplicably plumbed into the unfinished basement to keep me amused. But best of all, it is only 3 blocks away from where we used to be, and so we are still in Cathedral (the bestest neighbourhood in town!)

It is my favourite time of year again, Cathedral Village Arts Festival time! This year Miranda did not go to bed before 9.30pm on any night of the week. We fitted in parading and picnicking and painting a cardboard version of our house on the Monday (the library took a very literal interpretation of this year’s theme, “paint the town”!), then saw some children’s theatre. Tuesday was a drunken poetry slam where I rhymed and ranted about daughters of feminists, we won sci-fi books at Wednesday’s Towel Day costume contest (I dressed as Slarty Bartfast, complete with beard), Thursday was a clown show and Miranda is now in love with all things Clown which is a little scary, and Friday was the 25th arts festival anniversary special show, featuring Taiko drumming and lifesized rapping Grandma puppets (and plenty more that we missed because of Bedtime). I dared to actually take a day off from the cafe on Saturday because I assumed all my regular customers would be at the Cathedral street fair. I think I was right. It was PACKED as usual, but actually more pleasant because it wasn’t so uncomfortably hot as last year. I had volunteered with Miri’s daycare helping out on their facepainting stall, and we had half-hour waits and line ups all day. Then it rained and I got utterly drenched. We saw some bands in the evening, had beers, much silliness ensued. Good times.

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We ran into my friend Barbara, this year’s chair of the festival several times during the week and she kept saying that it was nice to see us at so many events. Another friend commented that I seemed to know so many people there and always knew what was going on when. I don’t think of these things as unusual. I love having such a huge festival on my doorstep and it would be a shame not to make the most of it. And I know a lot of people here because they are a very friendly, welcoming lot and I do my best to get to know the neighbours – (not something I felt I’d ever want or be able to do in Darlington!). We have legitimized it by buying a piece of it, but this city and particularly this neighbourhood rapidly became our home and we are very, very happy to be here!

{Hashtag} CVAF2014

Last night I cycled faster than the mosquitoes…

I wish that was some sort of metaphor for something more profound, but it isn’t. We have had One Week of sunshine and summer, and I have been eaten alive. I can outrun the evil little buggers on the bike though! And sometimes, in the right atmosphere, even mosquitoes can be poetic.

Last week was the Cathedral Village Arts Festival. This year was made more special (and considerably more exhausting) by the fact that I’ve been on the planning committee for it, for pretty much the entire year since the last one. It was one of the things, like the Ales club exec, that I merrily volunteered for when I was playing Stay-at-Home Mum last year and thought I’d have LOADS of time. More fool me! I enjoy doing this sort of thing far more than the work I do to earn myself a living unfortunately, but that is another issue entirely.

Being on the communications team for CVAF proved an interesting role – basically, because they’d never had a communications team before! I drew the line at live interviews and getting up crack of dawn to go on early morning TV (I left it to the expert – @thereginamom for that!) but I did get to help write some media releases, edit website content and of course, the hours and hours of tweeting. Before the festival, we did the Taste of Cathedral event back in February, and then the “Fence-Weaving” (my name for it!) earlier in May, where we wove fabric (this year’s theme was The Fabric of Life) into the fence outside Connaught school, to make a giant rainbow. It was gorgeous!

ImageI also got to “manage” the CVAF twitter and instagram accounts, although in many ways, it managed me. I live-tweeted every event I went to, and then curated anything using the #cvaf2014 hashtag. During festival week I would regularly log on to discover 90+ new notifications, and went through the whole lot, retweeting the cream of the crop every night. This is on top of my usual online ramblings, plus promoting the brand new Wheelie Good Coffee as much as humanely possible. To my credit, I only got confused once and used the wrong account, but fortunately no one noticed! I got so in the habit of typing #cvaf2014 though that I caught myself signing off like that on text messages, and once (only once!) it nearly ended up on someone’s insurance quote at work…dedication, people! Dedication! I actually admitted that I didn’t want to use Twitter again after that week. That resolve lasted about 36 hours. #addiction.

So, in far more than 140 characters, here’s what the week looked like from my point of view:

Monday:

My last post was all about LAUNCH DAY for Wheelie Good Coffee! I was sponsoring the #CVAF2014 Big Yellow Taxi event, providing enthusiastic singers with hot coffee on a wild and windy morning. They filmed the event, which is lovely because I was so busy with coffee that I didn’t really get to appreciate what they were all doing. This is filmed outside Connaught School – here’s the video and I will leave you to draw your own conclusions about the choice of song and location… You’re welcome to play Spot The Coffee Cart too though!

http://vimeo.com/m/96265416

Here’s how I spent most of that day:

ImageTuesday:

Tuesday was the free-for-all poetry slam at the Mercury. Same format as last year, in that in exchange for a toonie, we were given two random words from a book, and then had to write a poem in 20 minutes incorporating the two words. This is easier in the Mercury than it sounds because it has been a full house every time I’ve been, and you can get inspired by the people around you. Plus, there’s cheap beer. Every single photo I’ve ever taken in there comes out Red though. This is Micaela:

Imageand here is my effort from the evening: http://belwritesthings.blogspot.ca/2014/05/the-pedestal-of-virtual-misery.html The theme was apt considering my role in the festival!

Wednesday:

Somehow, (more through persistence than talent, I feel) I ended up in the Finals of the Word Up Wednesday poetry slam! This meant, No Beer, no “I only had 20 minutes” excuse, (we could choose whatever poem we wanted, and could rehearse), and formal judging with Actual Prizes at stake! I found out I’d got through 6 days before the finals, but in those six days, I had the last minute CVAF running about to do, get the coffee cart ready, survive launch day, work, and even do an exam at work. So, I didn’t rehearse, but I did at least choose my poems. I went for Funny over Deep and Meaningful (as always), but (also as always) the other poets are waaay more comfortable with showing emotion in public than I am. I thoroughly enjoyed myself and even rounded up my own cheering squad in the form of Sam, James and Jeff. I did fairly decently, but I didn’t win. Never mind!

ImageOn Thursday night, I took Miranda to the Dance Expo at the Cathedral Neighbourhood Centre, because she’s recently decided she LOVES dancing (possibly because Abi The Big Girl Next Door goes to dance classes). I was not quite prepared for what we found there. One of my most reshared tweets was “Where else can you see Munchie the Dinosaur learning to belly dance?”! Even Miri was a bit taken aback by that, but she had a lot of fun, especially when we got to get up and dance ourselves. Unfortunately it was a sort of therapeutic and meditational dance session, very slow and calm. Miranda of course, was practically bouncing off the ceiling and entirely in her own little world. But dance is all about self-expression, right?

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Friday:

We attempted to go see some of the bands on in the Holy Rosary Tent stage. Although we had another enjoyable night – it was a beautiful evening to be out – my attempts to get Miri to listen to the band were nearly futile. To get to the tent, I made the mistake of walking past the little play park at the back of the school. Miri saw “the spinny thing” and spent the ENTIRE evening playing on the roundabout with a gaggle of other kids. I got the first batch of mosquito bites there, and doused them in vinegar borrowed from the chip van that was catering there! I bet I smelled lovely for the rest of the night. We caught about ten minutes of Black Drink Crier, but that was it!

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Then came the mahoosive Saturday street fair. We set up Wheelie Good Coffee outside our house. I went to buy milk for it before the street fair had officially opened, and 13th ave was already busy then. By mid morning, you could barely move. So I think my approach was sensible – pitching the cart outside our house, just off 13th Ave, gave me room to breathe, and a steady stream of people walking past who could grab coffee without having to queue up for hours in the heat. And what heat! That was my main hindrance to sales really, few people wanted hot coffee when it hit 30 degrees! Even my mosquitos bites got a bit sunburnt. It was a great practice though, and I got lots of positive comments from people too.

ImageIn the afternoon I closed up shop, so I could go marshal the street fair itself. This involved wearing a hi-vis bright orange vest over my huge purple hippy skirt. My look was completed with my official CVAF cap. Sooo stylish! This is Canada. People are lovely and polite all the time, which meant that “marshalling” basically entailed pointing people in the right direction  of the portaloos. Crowd management was out of the question:

DSCF8490There were 7 blocks full of 350+ stalls, and a turnout of over 40,000 people. And apparently, it was also the hottest street fair day that anyone could remember. Fantastic!! It was a bit hot and tiring and overwhelming for Miri, but she coped rather better after getting an ice cream:

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Overall, it was another amazing week, and I have a newfound respect for the whole thing given the sheer amount of work and effort that all the volunteers put in. It was nearly incredible to see how it suddenly all came together at the last minute, thanks to the hard graft by #TeamAwesome. The compliments and reviews keep coming on Twitter too – ALL positive too, which speaks volumes for the local community. I am really proud of #cvaf2014, my fellow volunteers, and this neighbourhood, and I’m so glad to be part of it all!

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Launch day! Again!

Yesterday, 19th May 2014, saw the launch of my 3rd coffee business, Wheelie Good Coffee. You’d think with all this experience, starting up would be a breeze by now. Fat chance!! For nostalgia purposes, I read back over my post from September 2009 on here, when we launched Doctor Coffee’s Cafe Ape Van. Five long years ago, I was equally exhausted and apparently nearly fainted at my friends’ wedding and developed a mysteriously swollen ankle. In hindsight, it is easy to see these were signs of early pregnancy! This time, I am aching all over and knackered, but no other Big News to report I’m afraid.

Wheelie Good Coffee has already taken on a life of its own online. I’m at http://www.wheeliegoodcoffee.biz, and most significantly, @wheeliegdcoffee on Twitter. Twitter has been invaluable, both for inspiration and for the support to actually get this idea off the ground. I’ve received so many positive comments already that I feel more confident about this venture than ever before. Part of me attributes this to living in Regina, and particularly in Cathedral village, which is the first neighbourhood where I’ve encountered genuine community spirit. So to all my local Tweeps, THANK YOU, and I love you all!

The business is relatively simple and small scale. My wonderful, talented and handy husband built me a coffee cart – essentially a huge wooden box on wheels, housing an enormous kettle. This cart is pulled by my tricycle, Twyla, and I can pedal my way to events and trade outside downtown during the summer, at festivals, on markets, and so on. What’s that you say? How do I trade when it’s -40C outside? Well, that’s easy. I have a website where I sell my home-roasted coffee beans online, (teaching myself to roast requires a blog post in it’s own right!), along with mugs, tee shirts, my books and various accessories. The weird looking, very conspicuous coffee cart attracts people, and those who say “I like your coffee, how do I make it at home?” get directed to the online shop. At least, that is the plan.

Here’s the cart:

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All the coffees are Pour Over:

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and here it is all set up for the Cathedral Village Arts Festival:

ImageSadly, I didn’t get a photo of me in action. I didn’t have enough hands! I got utterly swamped, unable to make coffee fast enough! I was sponsoring an Arts Festival event, a mass singalong of Joni Mitchell’s Big Yellow Taxi outside Connaught school (read between the lines here!). If you turned up and sang, you got free coffee. In return, I got priceless exposure and publicity from it, a lot of tips (!) and a great opportunity to test out the coffee process with an appreciative and sympathetic audience. It worked – I got home to find online orders for coffee beans and despite exhaustion, I sat up til gone 11pm roasting coffee fresh for my new customers!

The weather could have been better, but it was not as bad as I’d feared. Horrendous rain was forecast, and 70kmph winds! It was windy, but we managed to miss the rain, fortunately. However, circumstances were far from ideal, because my coffee cups kept blowing away! I couldn’t serve the coffees fast enough because I didn’t have enough hands to simultaneously grind coffee, pour boiling hot water, dose up my coffee fllters, AND hold the cups down and out of the wind at the same time! Doh. But, the coffee filters do work, and people loved it – I quote “you can’t get fresher than that!”

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This all happened on Monday, Victoria day and the first day of the Arts Festival. The weekend prior to that was just mentally busy for both of us. Eternal gratitude to Carl for building the thing, but getting it out of our basement proved nearly impossible. As Carl maintained, the cart did fit neatly through the door to the basement. However, what he’d neglected to account for, was getting it off the stairs, and round the side of the kitchen cupboards. ALMIGHTY amounts of swearing ensued, and all his neat edging got pinged off to spare half a centimetre. BUT, we got there. And it didn’t fall apart, nor explode, nor collapse under its own weight. We had to hire a generator because there was nowhere to plug in outside on the street, and that required a lot of inquiry. The Roca Jacks coffee beans were eventually hand delivered late Sunday morning, after I had got myself into a state of low-level panic over their absense. Cycling it was a whole new experience. In a terrible bit of bad luck, one pedal just sheared off my trike last week, leaving me with an annoyingly long walk home one night, and now, no engine for the cart. So I had to make do with Yoshi, the two wheeler. Suddenly, balance became an issue again. I didn’t have any time to practice, but fortunately the whole thing relied on momentum. Starting was agonising, and stopping required about ten feet and excellent brakes (not something Yoshi is renowned for!). But once I was going, it wasn’t too heavy at all, even with 50litres of water on board. However, I now have sore muscles in places I didn’t even know I had muscles. Toning your glutes really is a pain in the arse.

BUT. I can pedal it. It does work. I make a GREAT fresh coffee. Bill’s Roca Jacks beans are just as good as they always were. Cathedral people are awesome, friendly and supportive, and the Cathedral Arts Festival got off to a great start despite the weather. I am achey, exhausted, happy and excited about Wheelie Good things to come!!

Pies and Prejudice

(Titled borrowed from  Stuart Maconie’s very funny book about Northern Britain)

Canadians don’t tend to write dates backwards like Americans do. (ie: 03/04 would be the third of April, not the 4th of March). However, they do celebrate PI-Day, the 14th March (“3.14”). So, we had a potluck lunch at work on 14th, and my contribution was Pi-pie.

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Pi-pie. Next time I will make it in a casserole dish and call it Pie R Squared.

At least this time, people got it! What they didn’t understand though was my love of savoury pies. That one was Caribbean style with beef and loads of peppers and I confused them all before when I made a giant Cornish pasty. Here, pies are sweet, and bakeries only serve doughnuts. I miss Greggs!!

***

This is Hilary and I. Yes I am dressed as a drunken mountie. Hils was being a pirate.
This is Hilary and I. Yes I am dressed as a drunken mountie. Hils was being a pirate. A normal Saturday evening.

Best news ever: My MAD geeky friends are coming out to visit!! Hilary and D, those sarcastic folk from London famous for Lego, working at the BBC and naked sauna parties, and who made comments about us being insane for moving somewhere so cold – they are voluntarily coming here. Not until October unfortunately, but YAAAAAAAAY anyway.

As soon as I heard this news, I wrote them a postcard, to prepare them for their arrival in this alien culture. It said something along the lines of:

“We will get cold watching the hockey, eh? But we can eat maple doughnuts and roll up the rims on our Timmies double-doubles, while somewhere nearby (about 5 hours away) a moose will nod appreciatively. Don’t forget your toques!”

Believe it or not, that was not (just) an exercise in ‘how many Canadian stereotypes can I fit on one postcard?” – I genuinely believe they will have NO IDEA what “Timmies,” “toques” or “double-doubles” are. They don’t measure distance in hours, and I’m fairly confident that D will think “rolling up the rim” is a sex act. He still hasn’t got over the concept of the Regina Farmers’ market, poor boy.

***

Last week I was sitting nervously wearing a 10 year old suit jacket and feeling like a complete berk, having a very high pressure discussion about my future job prospects. I faced the usual questions relatively well, or so I thought – research skills, can I do quantitative?  Why Coffee? Why Regina? yadayadayada. Then came the question that threw me off-guard. “So, you’re an anthropologist; what cultural differences have you noticed here?”

GULP.

Don’t get me wrong, there are many, many cultural differences between here and the UK, and probably even quite a few between Saskatchewan and other parts of Canada, but explaining them eloquently under pressure without offending anyone was beyond me. I made some awfully vague comments about everyone being friendlier, and fortunately managed to sidetrack the conversation away by pointing out how everything is designed around the car here. Which is true, and something I am acutely aware of and can’t seem to get used to, but it is certainly not the most striking cultural difference. The devil is in the details as they say. Things like not eating savoury pies, the innate apology-reflex and the adorable national obsession with a gimmicky competition designed to flog cheap coffee.

Some of the stereotypes do ring true. Canadians are very polite, but it’s not always a good thing. You can be deterred and unnerved by politeness, or lulled into a false sense of security. I didn’t get that job, but the woman who interviewed me sure as hell wasn’t going to tell me that. She was too polite. In some ways, that is even more infuriating.

On the surface, everyone is very friendly here, courteous and considerate – and they know they are, hence the “I’m sorry we’re so awesome” memes after the Winter Olympics! It is also much more classless in comparison with the UK. Back there, no one was too fond of claiming what ‘class’ they fitted in to, but it was constantly in the collective consciousness. There were the usual references to ‘middle class Guardian readers’ or some posh toff politician claiming to come from a “normal working class background”. Yes, I’m sure you did grow up on an estate, Cameron… your family just happened to own it…. Here, however, there is none of that. I’m well aware that I live in a nice comfortable middle class and lefty-liberal bubble, but very few call it ‘a middle class area’.

That is not to say that ‘classism’ or other forms of prejudice don’t exist though. I recently had an eye-opening discussion with a friend about our local schools.  As of yesterday, Connaught school where Miranda went to pre-kindergarten, is officially no more. http://www.cbc.ca/player/News/Canada/Saskatchewan/ID/2339282560/

It will be closed in June, and then knocked down. (This topic deserves a blog post all to itself but it makes me so angry that it’s taken ages to start writing, and each time I do, something else happens to make me need to rewrite!). Anyway, there has been outrage in the local community, and the school board couldn’t have handled it worse if they’d tried. In what passed for “public consultation”, the parents were given different options of what should happen next – where the kids could go in the interim between the school being knocked down, and them (hopefully) building another one. To my mind, none of the options were remotely plausible – and as it turns out, futile too, since the eventual outcome completely disregarded the views of the parents anyway. One option, which the school board finally decided on this week, was to bus all the kids over to Wascana school, which is currently standing empty. The Wascana school kids are now in the brand new Seven Stones school. At the public consultation meeting back in February, this idea was suggested, and shouted down with boos from the parents. I confess ignorance here: I didn’t know where Wascana school is, and I didn’t know why it was empty. As the name suggests, I thought it was some school near Wascana lake, and I thought it was empty because it was falling down or something – and that was why it was an unpopular choice.

As it turns out, Wascana School is nowhere the lake. In fact, it is above the train tracks from here, in the North Central neighbourhood, otherwise known as “the hood”. I’ve mentioned it before on here. Before we moved, I was warned by several people not to move to that area. Now we’re here, I have had other parents aghast that I took Miri to Scott Collegiate for the Early Years Family Centre there, because it involved walking through the hood. I never had any problems whatsoever up there, and I always felt far, far safer there and more comfortable than I did just walking between my house and my own business back in Darlington. But no, apparently, these polite, courteous, laid back, liberal and classless Canadians won’t send their little darlings to a school the wrong side of the tracks. And their reasoning, conscious or otherwise, is worthy of another blog post all to itself because it is even more disturbing!

Because Coffee is important…

In my last post, I mentioned that my favourite coffee shop in Cathedral is closing down at the end of this month. That coffee shop is of course, Roca Jacks. This makes me very sad indeed.

The coffee is the best in town in my humble opinion, but more than that, the place was my first Regina landmark – we hung around in there constantly in that painful two weeks back in 2011 where Emigration Plan 1 (Kave Haz) fell apart in front of me, and where Plan 2 (13th Ave Coffee House) eventually became an option.  It was where I met Tamara, my first real friend in Canada, and through her, and the coffee shop itself, I’ve met so many others. I slept on her futon for 6 months, that used to live in Roca Jacks’ basement and it now adorns our spare room. When getting to grips with Regina’s layout, I looked the place up on Google street map, only to discover that the group of regulars who sit outside it, actually feature on the map!!  I persuaded Bill at Roca Jacks to roast a special blend of coffee for 13th Ave Coffee that was unique to their business, and they are still using it now, even though I left a year ago. Bill was also one of the first people to employ my coffee consultancy services. I’ve chained both Yoshi the bike and Twyla the trike up outside it, and sat in there for hours with a laptop, a friend or three, or a sleeping Miranda. Miri has danced, shouted into a fan, climbed into the coffee roaster, petted Lorena’s Daschund (another “Mr Pickles”), drunk copious amounts of hot chocolate and even mastered the toilet in there.

The regulars outside Roca Jacks, as they appear on Google Street View
The regulars outside Roca Jacks, as they appear on Google Street View

And that is just me.

When they first announced their closure, I immediately dreamed up wild over-ambitious plans of buying the place via crowdfunding and keeping it going as a straight-forward coffee shop (and Bill would keep the roasting side of it). I was gonna do out the basement and make more seating and even sell books in there since the book shop is also closing. I rallied the troops – my friends, the loyal Twitterers of YQR, and friend’s girlfriend’s random acquaintances on Farcebook.

The response was unbelievable – I was not the only one wanting to save it, in fact there were a group already meeting and looking into setting up a cooperative. So many people wanting to keep an unhelpfully small, fairly scruffy coffee shop open, right on the edge of this neighbourhood with all its chipped mugs, sarcastic humour on the tip jar, its chain-smoking-tattooed-bearded-occasionally-unicycling clientele, the unfinished renovations and its secret hidden toilet that made up its “charms”. The place did have a few real difficulties – namely lack of parking (I never really saw that as an issue personally, because everyone I met in there was on foot or on a bike anyway), lack of seating space, no wifi and to my mind, lack of Big Windows through which to people watch. But it was loved by a great many people. It always made me smile to see people sitting outside it in the minus-ridiculous temperatures, while the posh new $tarbucks inside Safeway remains completely empty. My driving instructor actually summed it up rather nicely: “I’m usually in Roca Jacks. I know it’s the scuzziest place but it’s my local and the coffee is great!”

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Sadly, my plans never materialised; although the business could have been available, the lease on the building was not, and a coffee shop without an actual shop isn’t much use. I am truly and utterly gutted by this, and I don’t think I’m alone in that feeling.

But, having set my heart on coffee-ing again, I’m going to set a little something up that is not quite so financially insane. Fittingly for Cathedral, it’s going to be a rather hipster-ish coffee cart towed by my tricycle, called Wheelie Good Coffee – that link will take you to more details over on my coffee blog. I’m hoping to get it ready in time to bring coffee to the street fair at the Cathedral Arts Festival.

I’ll be serving beans from Roca Jacks, of course. Because Coffee is important. In this case though, it is not just about the coffee; it’s about community. But it’s coffee that brings my bizarre little community together, and I will always love that.

The Best Neighbourhood

I may have said this before: I love Regina, and Cathedral Village is definitely the best bit of it!
I have definitely said this before: It is frigging FREEZING. Eyelash-freezingly, thigh-numbingly, frost-bite-inducingly, Thermos-coffee-mug-thwartingly painfully, dangerously cold!! Sunday had a high -31 celcius.(-24 fahrenheit for American imperialists) and that was without the windchill. With the wind, it was -48, which is -54F. Yep, you guessed it, colder than the surface of Mars. Again.

I am not going to do another post about coldness though, I promise.

My parents came out here for Christmas again, and they now expect a white one – well, they certainly aren’t going to get it at home, are they? We had a lovely holiday, (as always) but it definitely wasn’t long enough. We did have some excursions, including a fantastic trip to Moose Jaw to Temple Gardens Spa, where it’s possible to bathe in hot, natural spring waters, (on the third floor, I might add), but then swim outside and steam in the sudden rush of the minus-ridiculous temperatures of the snowy roof patio. Amazing experience!! Dad’s hair froze, so we spiked it up for him….

Water: 43C Air - 25C
Water: 43C
Air – 25C

We also spent a while SKATING. I LOVE skating!!! Miranda loves it too! I was a bit wobbly at first -I didn’t actually get very good at it last year, but at least i can remain upright and propel myself along. Miri is getting very proficient on her little bobskates. We found there’s a rink at the park on McTavish st in Cathedral so we went there until we were joined by a junior hockey crowd and were humiliatingly overtaken by 6 year olds…. never mind, the Victoria Park rink, ten minutes walk in the other direction, is now open and is relatively hockey-free. Best of all, they hire out skates (for free) and even Mum was (almost) brave enough to have a go!

Not sure if we're holding Miri up or whether she's pulling us along...
Not sure if we’re holding Miri up or whether she’s pulling us along…

The rest of the time, we went for Cold Walks around the neighbourhood, being Beer Elves and making deliveries to Amy, or bringing the Christmas Octonauts magazine to Jeff and Bryony all the way from the UK. Miranda got a SLEIGH from Granny and Grandad for Christmas, which is absolutely brilliant – so much easier than negotiating the pushchair through the snow. Of course, we had to test it, so we bundled her up and went out to admire everyone else’s Christmas lights , most of which were considerably more impressive than our own!

Not our house
Not our house
Madam's carriage
Madam’s carriage

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finally, on our last weekend together, we went to the 13th Ave Records Rendevous at the Artesian. Loads of local bands, several with interchangeable band members, and seemingly trying to play “how many musicians can we fit on stage at once?” It was an excellent night (possibly not as good as the previous year’s – too much of one band, not enough tubas involved?!), and so good to see so much live music all from one small area. There was an after party at the German Club afterwards, which is a long way from Cathedral. The solution? Get the host, a hipster-with-a-megaphone to usher people on to a (free) bus, along with half a brassband and a country singer who stole the aforementioned megaphone, and get the Music Bus all the way across town. Wonderful!!

DSCF8055

13th Ave Records operates out of a shop called Buy the Book, two blocks from here. Very sadly, the owner of both, Chris, announced at new year that Buy the Book is closing down soon. Next came the news that my very favourite coffee shop is also closing. What is happening to 13th avenue?? This is Cathedral! If small businesses and community-minded,sightly hippy folk can thrive anywhere, it is HERE. I have a feeling I will be writing more about Cathedral coffee shops soon though, and I refuse to get sad about this. I am staying positive. Cathedral is a beautiful, fantastic neighbourhood and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

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