Tag Archive | shopping

Yes Virginia: There was life before plastic…

Muriel2017

by Chandra

If you listen, you’ll hear people say we won’t know how to manage without plastic bags and containers. Not to worry. There WAS life before plastic and I remember it very well. It was fine….

During Montreal’s cold winters, when I became old enough to travel streetcars on my own, mom would send me to bring hot food to my dad, who ran an unheated poultry shop. The pot I carried had a handle, but the old top didn’t fit well. Occasionally, when the streetcar rattled, the contents overflowed onto my coat. I didn’t enjoy that — but survived. It might have been a better idea to put the hot food in glass jars, wrapped them in towels, in one of those cloth shopping bags mom had. However I wasn’t bright enough to think of it.

mydad'sstore

This is what dad’s shop looked like

By the way, that unheated poultry market had live chickens delivered straight from the farm displayed in metal coops, and when a customer selected the one she wanted, the bird was quickly butchered, cleaned and packed in butcher paper, then in used newspaper, secured with a string and taken home or delivered — no styrofoam trays or plastic wrap required. (Dad would bring very fresh eggs home for us.)

1940s store

Note customer carrying groceries in paper bag

What were our grocery stores like? I remember fruits and veggies being displayed in wood boxes they originally came in, or round wood bushels. There were packages in cardboard boxes plus items in glass jars. If you purchased slices of cheese or deli meats, it was weighed and placed in butcher or waxed paper. It all got home okay.

When I ran my own household, our trash was placed in doubled paper bags in the kitchen container before being transferred, when full, to the large one outdoors. We never considered it a problem.

seaturtlehatching

Baby turtles already have many obstacles without us making life more difficult.

True, we didn’t recycle food yet. I admit I thought the sink garbage disposal was the cleverest invention ever created. (I still have one because it was already installed, but have NEVER used it since learning it pollutes our waters.)

they're worth saving

Magnificent orca, worth saving

Today I prepare food waste for recycling without plastic. My indoor container is lined with layers of newspaper and when full, tossed, paper and all, into our building’s large food waste bin. My container gets a good washing, and when dry, is ready to use again.

 

deadlyplastic

Sea creatures get stuck in this plastic and die

With so much plastic doing damage to our waterways and creatures who must live in them, we must change our ways. We’re doing too much damage and I fear for the future if we don’t stop. I know we can do it. It’s easy enough. It’s all good. Don’t worry. Just go for it.

deadanimal

Let’s end this forever

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Hudson’s Bay Company and — Tsar Nicholas????

Muriel Susan

Daughter Susan and me, you can blame her for this blog

I’m not a shopper. I have no patience and particularly hate trying on clothes. I also don’t like large department stores — haven’t a clue where things are and too often can’t find someone to ask. Our Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) is one such store. I avoid it if I can. They once had a huge sign on the outside of their downtown location declaring ‘Shopping is good’. I didn’t approve. The statement is debatable, but that’s a whole other story.

Our bodies have to be clothed, so it becomes necessary now and then to shop.

summer pants at HBC

found a new pair of these at HBC

That means going to larger stores for me. I’m short. I need a petite. Most smaller stores don’t carry petites, so I went to HBC for my recent summer clothing requirements. Who’d have imagined what I read about them later?

220px-Indians_at_a_Hudson_Bay_Company_trading_post

HBC didn’t only buy and sell furs

I’m a history buff. Of course I knew HBC, as one of the oldest businesses in existence, would have a long history. However in reading ‘The Secret Plot To Save The Tsar’ by Shay McNeale, I learned the company had been involved in far more than just buying and selling furs.

The book says HBC was contracted to construct a residence in Murmansk, in northern Russia, to be used as a safe house for Tsar Nicholas II and his family pending a hopeful rescue by the Allies in 1917. It was believed/hoped this might even lead to the Tsar’s eventual return to power. And it was HBC’s Henry Armitstead (1877-1956) who headed the project.

During World War One, (1914-1918) HBC operated as purchasing agents for France, Russia, Romania as well as others. The firm had headquarters in London. They were able to claim the house was being built for use by employees, but it was paid for by the British Admiralty and constructed under the auspices of the British Secret Service. (Armitstead’s boss, C.V. Sale, was head of HBC at the time.)

As during most revolutions, in the Russia of 1917, factions jostled for power. Bolsheviks, Czechs, the White Army, Reds, Cossacks, Caucasians, and others manoeuvred, used extortion, blackmail, ransoms, bribes and double-dealing to gain control of the country during the civil war. Agents and double agents infiltrated the various factions, often changing identities and names, other countries utilized a multi-tracked policy of espionage. It was a real, live ‘cloak and dagger’ whodunnit with murders and disappearances a common occurrence. Lenin was a master at the game. He accepted huge bribes from all sides — and was the guy who trained Stalin — only too well.

Family II

Tsar Nicholas II and family

King George V and first cousin Tsar Nicholas, often called twins

First cousins: Tsar Nicholas and King George V ‘The Twins’

What is the truth? Did the Tsar and his family actually survive? To this day some think so. Some don’t. The Tsar was closely related to many other European Royals. His first cousin, King George V of England, and he looked so much alike they were often called ‘The Twins’ and easily mistaken for each other.

Do I think they survived? No.

And what do the Hudson’s Bay’s records say of all this? Their

220px-HBCWinnipeg

HBC Winnipeg — archives

archives are online and fascinating — I spent hours totally intrigued. They say Armitstead was indeed employed by them and was posted in Archangel, on a ‘special trade mission’ during 1917.  Archangel (Arkhangeiska) is located in the north of Russia. Interesting, no?

Good Grief, Gift-giving time…..

Gift-giving time

Gift-giving time

Holiday music is everywhere. The stores are full of gifts and sweets hoping you will buy them for friends and loved ones and as usual, I’m not out there much. A reluctant shopper at any time, I am even more so when the shops are busy. Just the idea of gift-giving fills me with unease and trepidation — and no wonder! My own home is filled with gifts I don’t need, but keep — from people I love.
Don't look for me in this picture, I'm not there if I can help it

Don’t look for me in this picture, I’m not there if I can help it


What was the most useless gift I ever received?? There are many, however it may have been the Portuguese bread bag which arrived by mail. Not that I recognized it as such when I opened the package. It was an off-white, 9”
Portuguese bread bag, but I didn't have any Portuguese bread

Portuguese bread bag, but I didn’t have any Portuguese bread

square, fabric bag with a pull-string at the top, and a bright red embroidered flower in one corner with the word “PAN” inscribed on it.
Pan, the god of Greek mythology and his reed pipe

Pan, the god of Greek mythology and his reed pipe

According to Greek mythology, Pan was that happy-go-lucky god of the woods, fields and fertility — the son of Hermes and a gofer for the other gods. He was a musical prodigy, but his body was totally confused, with horns, hoofs and goat ears, all of which didn’t seem to bother him. He had a grand time playing his pipe of reeds, which the clever guy, they say, invented all by himself. You have to admire Pan for not looking at his reflection in a pond and just giving up — that’s how ugly he was.
His persistence in the face of failure with the fair sex is inspiring. He continued to woo one beautiful wood nymph after another even though they kept rejecting him due to his yucky looks. It wasn’t very kind of them, but maybe they just couldn’t get past the thought of those scratchy hoofs in bed. They say the word “panic” is derived from the fears of travelers who heard the sound of Pan’s pipes at night in the wilderness. But, that wouldn’t scare me half as much as shopping for gifts. My family knows. They are kind. They shop for their own gifts from me and I am grateful.
Well, back to that bag. I studied it. Was it a tribute to the Greek Pan? For carrying a small pipe made of reeds? Do I have reed pipes sitting around hoping for a place to snuggle in — in such a bag? I couldn’t figure it out. I called to inquire. After patiently hearing my long tale about Pan and his hoofs and his lack of success with the ladies, my friend chuckled.
“You lived in L.A. for years and don’t know what pan is?” (It does means bread in Spanish.) I remained puzzled. How could any bread fit into such a bag and why would anyone want to put it in there?
I didn't know where to obtain Portuguese sweet bread, which might have fit in my bread bag

I didn’t know where to obtain Portuguese sweet bread, which might have fit in my bread bag


What to do? During past holidays we had fun with what we called a “Stupid Gift Exchange”. We would wrap gifts we’d been given and didn’t need. (If you do this, be sure the gift-giver isn’t at the party.) Friends are sometimes pleased to get something you may not have wanted, but apparently my Portuguese bread bag was not in demand. It was rejected two years in a row and I was required to take it back — twice.
Poor thing. Its red flower turned to an embarrassed scarlet and it sat alone feeling blue, rejected and unloved in my kitchen junk drawer for years. I’d see it now and then and be reminded of its sorrow. It made me sad. After years of this, I finally passed it on as a wedding gift, along with a cheque and a hand-written note revealing the long saga of the poor unwanted Portuguese bread bag.
The young couple who received it must have been moved. They called me long distance just to find out if the sad story was true. Would I make up something like that?
They assured me they knew someone they wanted to give it to. I wonder who it was. Did those people find a use for it and keep it? Did they pass it on again? I wonder who has it now or if it is still being passed from one to another? Did someone happen to give it to you?
Happy Holiday! Here’s to humour, health and happiness in the New Year! Holiday Greets