In my woodcarving class on Wednesday we take a half hour break for coffee. It's a three hour class once a week, and to me half an hour for coffee seems like a long time. I'm paying for a carving class, not a coffee break! But I'm the newbie here, most of these folks have been in this class for many years, and they take a half hour break for coffee. One guy, he doesn't even come here to carve anymore, he just arrives at coffee break time and leaves right after!
At the beginning of each class Ruth, our teacher, always makes a few announcements. Sometimes stuff about the school, sometimes about our class, sometimes about other students she has. Today she tells us that one of her students in another class just died. A young woman, maybe early 50s, she was enrolled this term but she told Ruth she had terminal cancer, and I guess she wasn't kidding. Ruth thought she seemed very alive and active, it was hard to believe that she was gone so fast.
It seems like most people who enroll in one of Ruth's classes only leave via a funeral home. She always tells us when one of her students dies. I think that must be very strange to have your students die on you.
Today, Bill arrives a little early with two big boxes of doughnuts. Not just any doughnuts, SanRemo doughnuts. that's the little bakery and deli up the street from Mimico Adult Ed. He sets himself up at the coffee table and reads the newspaper while we carve, waiting for coffee break. Bill says that he has all his own tools at home, and he only occasionally needs advice or help from our teacher, Ruth, so there's no point taking up space in the class except for coffee.
Soon we are all gathered around the coffee table, five women and seven men. The big news today is Adam Giambrone, the City Councillor for my ward who is running for Mayor of Toronto. Or was. He is officially out of the race as of today because he is accused of and has admitted to having an affair with a woman while living with another (he's not married). Not that that is illegal, but it has made the news and a lot of people are upset about it. So at coffee today we talk about sexual impropriety and other misbehaviours, the things men do that are rather unsavoury, and the things that women do that are rather unsavoury. There are a few jokes.
At a certain point one of the men says, It says something about our society that we can have this conversation now, in mixed company, without name calling or embarrassment or hurt feelings. I don't think we could have had this conversation twenty years ago. We are a bit surprised by that comment, but we all agree with him. We probably could not have had this conversation in times gone by.
For all the unpleasant things going on in our culture today, there are a few things that are improving.
FoodSaver, the best new addition to my kitchen!
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