Thursday, May 5, 2016


If I may be forgiven for using that preposterous and transparently dated epithet "cleaning lady", ours is a woman named Nadine. I am certain there must now be a more suitable term to describe someone who looks after cleaning one's house or apartment but employing "housekeeper" for example sounds rather more grand than the occupation implies. In any event what matters for purposes of this narrative is that Nadine visits us every two weeks and we favour her with the courtesy of getting lost when she is here, about a 2½ hour duration.  The bi-weekly visits have become the occasion for an outing, one that normally takes us away for most if not all the afternoon.

Today our uncharted sojourn was initially to Gananoque but when we arrived there we decided to broaden our jaunt to Kingston, specifically Atomica restaurant on Brock Street.

But I am getting ahead of myself.  Let me first say that we left the apartment around noon, after having taken our requisite daily bicycle ride along Country Street, Rae Road and 8th Concession Ramsay. Of course we had had our breakfast early this morning. In keeping with another tradition that has evolved in conjunction with Nadine's visit, we were out of bed by 6:30 a.m. and immediately began laundering of the bed clothes. Contemporaneously with this decontamination we had coffee, fresh fruit and a concoction of protein (in my case, a fried egg, smoked salmon, sliced onion, green pepper and blue cheese).

When we eventually nosed the Cadillac off the property we instinctively headed in the direction of the St. Lawrence Seaway.  We had determined already that Cedar Cove Resort on White Lake (another of our regular haunts on these occasions) wasn't yet open for business. We might have gone to the beanery in the Village of White Lake but that didn't occur to us.  Today was our first outing so we were rather flying on automatic pilot without being particularly creative about where we were going.  Besides the route we have developed to go to Gananoque is a very pleasant bucolic saunter through Smiths Falls and a number of tiny villages between it and the Seaway, what might justifiably be called the "back roads" of Lanark County. There was a time when we first began these tours (shortly after I retired in 2014) that we would have customarily taken Highway 416 from Ottawa onto the 401 then detoured onto Ivy Lea Parkway for something less urban. I can't recall when we first discovered the back roads but we now prefer that route. We amuse ourselves along the way to enjoy listening to music, watching the rail fences and scoping the many charming restored brick farmhouses. Our conversation today dwelt larger upon our personal affairs, family and financial. Since we began these day-trips in 2014 we have been encumbered by many other preoccupations than merely our own. But this year matters have settled down in our family orbit and we have the privilege to focus upon ourselves. We gleefully contemplated our upcoming drive to St. Andrews-by-the-Sea, NB in September.

Today's venture was fortuitously marked by bright sunshine and blue skies.  The predictable springtime blossoms were evident as well.  The verdancy appeared to increase as we moved south towards the St. Lawrence River; and certainly the temperature began to climb.

Although our initial destination was the Socialist Pig in Gananoque, we abandoned that idea when we realized we had arrived there around 2:00 p.m.  If we were to consume the entire afternoon, and if we were to have an "early dinner" instead of a "late lunch", that meant we needed to extend our journey.  For that reason we moved along to Kingston which is only about 28 kilometres further.  As it happens we both enjoy Atomica restaurant and the City itself so it was no great accommodation.

We have been to Atomica more than once and usually at the same time of day, mid-afternoon.  Once again we were among the very few patrons in the place at that time of day which of course meant only that it was quiet and that we had the benefit of good service.  Our meals were very satisfactory.  We have never been disappointed there. As an indication of the level of service, our waitress had warmed our tea cups with hot water before delivering them to the table.  And the Jasmine tea was above the standard leaf.  As well the bread (and the olive oil and Balsamic vinegar) were superb. What followed was equally appetizing, including the desserts. When we had finished our meals we both chimed we had no interest in dinner this evening. I remarked that being in Kingston always puts me in mind of my undergraduate university days in Toronto when we were accustomed to race off-campus to Yorkville and Avenue Road.  With the proximity of Queens University and the Royal Military College, the student element of Kingston is of course impossible to ignore.

As we walked back from the restaurant to the car (which we had judiciously parked on the western perimeter of the more congested business area), we passed an eye-glass store which I knew.  Since I purchased a pair of Tom glasses there last year I had harboured an interest to return to view the stock.  Today was the day.  And sure enough when I went into the store I spotted several frames which immediately captured my attention.  I tried all three but one in particular fit best (and it was the one which suited me best as well). The cost was $160 which is remarkably less than the $950 I have been paying for Dolabany frames.  Both frames are sturdy and well made so I am at a loss to discern much if any difference (though the Dolabany frames proclaim to be hand made). The Tom frames especially appeal to me for their weight.  I am pleased with my new acquisition and I have arranged to take them to my local optometrist tomorrow morning for the prescription lenses.

We arrived home about six o'clock.  The one disadvantage of taking the scenic route home is that I miss the opportunity to have the car washed.  No matter.  I discharged my passenger and headed back to the City to round out the affair. I was perfectly content to conduct this ceremony on my own.  I have a routine that I enjoy fulfilling, including listening to BBC to catch the latest intelligence which is guaranteed to be an improvement on the usual media presentations. The stretch of Highway #7 between Stittsville (where I go to the "Glide" car wash at a modern Petro-Canada station) and Carleton Place is one of my favourites. It is 4-lane, smooth, undulating and passes through open fields. In either direction the views are splendid.

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