My Car Was Just a Vehicle for Community
If you've read my bio you know that I've been trying to create community for a long time. I really like bumping into people I know while I'm shopping, reading in the common room or meandering through town, and that's what spurred me to become a member of KCC. But yesterday I realized another reason for living in community.
When I turned the key in my car's ignition on December 24th, thinking to run out for one last thing before everything closed down, I got nothing. No rur-rur-rur, no vroom, not even a click. OK, I thought, call CAA -- but my membership had expired. OK, I thought, renew on the 27th, walk to the store today. And I did just that.
On the 27th I first renewed my CAA membership, then called my mechanic, but nobody was answering, so I put out a query to the KCC community asking for the name of a decent mechanic. In just a few minutes emails came in with help -- lots of advice about CAA and jumper cables, so I wrote again explaining more fully -- that the large SUV was in a tiny garage, nose in, I couldn't raise the hood, so even though I have jumper cables (somewhere) I couldn't use them, and the car has a bunch of little problems that need attention. Then the mechanics' names started coming in. But it was December 27th during the pandemic, and the first three I tried didn't answer. J&M, which just happens to be less than two kilometres from my house, answered and could take my car that day. I then called CAA to arrange for a jump or a tow, whichever could work. They arrived in less than 3 minutes! The CAA guy found a way to open the hood and fastened the jumper cables, I got in, turned the key, and the engine sprang to life like Dr. Frasier's Glockenspiel! (If you haven't seen that episode of Frasier: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rkyqbtL1d3Y ) I was so happy I jumped into the car and drove to J&M to drop it off. They couldn't predict when it would be ready, and because of the pandemic they couldn't shuttle me home. Even though the walk would only be 2 kilometres, I was wearing a light jacket and Birkenstocks with light socks, and the sidewalks were piled with cold slush. Yuck. I could do it, but I'd really rather not.
Dave McPherson had offered me a lift earlier, so I thought, "Call Dave," but I didn't have his number -- so I called Aukje, who looked up his number for me. He arrived in a few minutes, and as he drove me home, he said he would have been glad to come to my house, help me push the car out of the garage and jump it. "Wow," I said, "that's a lot of work, and I don't like to use my friends for hard labour," remembering that I've graduated from getting friends to help me move for pizza and beer. But Dave said it wouldn't be a lot to him. When mechanical things go wrong in my life, I go into "call the expert" mode. I don't want to fuss with it, don't want to try because when it comes to mechanical things, I'm stereotypically helpless. I just don't have the neurological velcro to store that sort of information in a way that it stays. I told Dave about my "call the expert" mode and he got it right away and accepted that that's the way my mind works. (But it turns out Dave has expertise I didn't know about, so I may call on him yet.) Later the same day the car was ready to pick up -- this time I put boots on and got in the walk I needed for the day -- 25 minutes to the shop. One of the things I like about this community is that, even though we're not living in community yet, we are an "acting community." We aren't waiting until we live together to act as community. The helpfulness of our community members is not something I was looking for when I joined this group, but it makes me even more grateful to be part of KCC.
The chatline was originally started to enable out of towners and snowbirds a chance to connect during the winter months. We would meet once a month on Wednesday mornings at 10am. Once Covid 19 happened in March, there was the realization that many were feeling more and more disconnected so chatlines were held weekly. To accommodate those who were working, a Saturday chatline began. The chatlines were to take the place of a normal coffee hour where people would gather together. One never knows what we will talk about, anything from what our favorite colors are to supporting one another during the grief of losing a loved one. It is a wonderful opportunity to build community. Getting to know one another before we move into our new home is an important part of the cohousing experience. Everyone is invited including explorers, friends and associates of KCC.
This is a picture of the Swallowtail Lighthouse on Grand Manan Island in New Brunswick. I think it was taken in 2012 and I was looking for a place to come back to in Canada - a place to live. I ended up in Picton. I had been elsewhere for 36 years - Bermuda. Boston, Bangkok, Hong Kong, NYC and New Hampshire. I came very close to choosing Grand Manan.
Equity Member Interview – meet Bruce Kitchen
Bruce was born 72 years ago in Orillia. He grew up near Elmvale, north of Barrie. His 2
uncles and grandfather had farms and he spent his summers working on farms. They grew grain and hay for feed, and sold animals and milk/cream. To make more money for university he got 2 other jobs: 1. Apprenticed to an electrician in the daytime and 2. Working at a drive-in in the evenings. He had to spy on the cars to make sure groups of kids weren’t getting too rowdy. A lot of the time, people would sit with their foot on the brake pedal so their red lights would shine in the face of the car behind them, and he had to tell them to take their foot off. He said, “Of course, things were going on inside some cars that you weren’t supposed to be a part of…” Bruce said he made about $1000.00 and had it for all of 3 days before he had to pay university fees and books. Bruce went to the University of Waterloo from ’68-’72 for civil engineering. He wasn’t really confident he could get through; he figured he would go home and learn to be an electrician if it didn’t work out. But it did work out. He had student jobs working for the Water Survey of Canada. At the end of university, he got lucky and they had a full-time job available. 2 years later he got a job as a Water Control Engineer in Peterborough on the Trent Canal; stayed there for 32 years, and retired in 2006. He liked the job – it changed a lot; the water was always moving and you had to decide what to do with it, so it never seemed stale. There was some spectacular flooding sometimes. They had public meetings with politicians who were always trying to look good and would “throw you to the wolves”. Some people didn’t care about any explanation they would give, they just wanted to pick on someone. He said you got brownie points just for showing at one of those. It was the worst part of the job. He met Lyn in Grade 8. “Were you in the same class?”, I asked. Yes, because it was a one-room schoolhouse! They went to the same high school. She began work as a Registered Nursing Assistant before he finished university and they got married in 1970. They had 3 children – 2 boys and a girl and all live in Ontario, though not the Ptbo area. They have 7 grandchildren; the oldest 14 and the youngest 5. Bruce and Lyn live near Lakefield, on the 10th line of Smith. For 7-8 years Lyn and Bruce have been spending winters in Florida, renting at a resort. They have travelled in Europe and cruised on the Mediterranean. One of his best trips was a barge-and-bike tour from Amsterdam that explored the Netherlands and Belgium. His hobby is woodworking. He has built 2 canoes and 2 kayaks. He got started when he found a book about building a kayak by Ted Moores. He thought it would only be a story, but it was a plan with detailed information on how to build from strips of wood. He talked with the author, who used to live just outside Ptbo, but Bruce thought he could do it himself if he had the equipment. He got help from a friend because he says, “It isn’t as much fun doing it on your own as doing it with someone else.” He says he wouldn’t sell a boat because it’s a labour of love and he would have charge so much just to cover materials. His idea was to give one vessel for each of his children as a memento for them of him. He enjoys going out on the boats and has been doing so with a friend for 8-9 years now. He is now learning to carve and has a membership with the Ontario Wood Carvers Association.
Introducing… Margeree Edward
Having hearing aid problems meant that Margaree is writing her own bio. The following is Margaree in her own words…
It was with great anticipation that we, my husband, myself and our two little boys (5 and 2), set out to our new home in Peterborough. Such an active community and so suited to families. We strapped our children to our backs and went X- country skiing and hiking. We camped, canoed, and played sports. A wonderful, active community. But don't you be thinking now that we were not active in Niagara. It was just different. During the 8 years just before Peterborough, I did the following: enrolled in postgraduate study at Cornell University in New York state (41/2 hours from home), got married, did a Master’s degree in Communication, had a baby, completed a PhD to the point of ABD, ran my sister's antique shop for many months, taught at Brock University for three years, had another baby, and graduated PhD. Meanwhile at home base we restored a big, very old farm house on 8 acres of land, with fruit trees, small animals and a whole acre of vegetable gardening. We pickled, froze, jammed and jellied everything we could. If this is beginning to sound like we were hippies, well, maybe you are right. We even went to Woodstock. In Peterborough, when the marriage ended after 13 years, I spent a lot of time on the highway between Toronto and Peterborough so the children could go to Peterborough schools. I set up my own company as a freelance consultant which worked out well for the next 18 years. How would I define the work I have done? The area is public health (population health), the focus is health promotion and disease prevention, the government's term is Health Promotion Specialist. And so began some of the happiest times of my working life. I was invited by Trevor Hancock, the originator of the Healthy Communities movement, to sit on the Ontario Board; from there I went to being the Executive Director of Ontario Healthy Communities. I pulled together 43 communities across Ontario, provided expertise as needed, and promoted the role of healthy communities throughout Ontario. My next exciting contract fell into my lap when I was asked by Health Canada to produce a set of documentary videos on the efficacy of the Health Promotion model in communities that have lost their primary source of revenue. I assembled a video production team and we set out over several months, filming across Canada in 8 communities including an Indigenous community we had to paddle into. The final product was 6 videos with an accompanying manual all in English and French. Over a thousand of these packages were requested. I do admit that the sudden appearance of stage 4 colon cancer in 2003, and its spread to the lungs in 2009 and again in 2010, took some of the wind out of my sails. I closed the company in 2013 and devoted my time to ... a different lifestyle. And life takes another turn! Images of the busy years go by. Images of public service: Elected Commissioner at the PUC - first woman ever (9yrs). City Councillor (6 years). So much time, so many roles in Sustainable Development. My joy in helping to create Peterborough GreenUp - 15 years on the Board. Peterborough Bikeways - my baby. These all begin to fade away, to be replaced by decisions for the day. What will be my walking route today? How is my art project coming? And most important, what shall I send little Frankie, the youngest of my 3 grandchildren, for his 5th birthday. I look constantly to find what is beautiful today. Beauty in nature sustains me. Life is good!
Some inspiring words:
“My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together.” - Desmond Tutu