Birthday Weekend

On Saturday, we drove to the west of the island for fancy afternoon tea at a place called the Tyne Valley Tea Café on the west of the Island.

Craig arranged this beforehand, so they did a special vegan version of the tea for me, and it wasn’t one of those “This, but without the that” affairs. Nowadays, my experience of vegan meals is often “Bluh, I’d rather have stayed home and made something better myself.”

But this… this was incredible. The pleasing, harmonious, unique blend of flavours combinations I would never have thought of, the artful presentation — I felt like a judge on “The Great Canadian Baking Show”.

I’m also a hungry dude, but I was properly full by the end of all the courses.

The service was friendly, caring, and informative — almost more like dinner theatre, as we were talked through the whole concept of fancy afternoon tea and introduced to all the servings, from a blooming jasmine pearl tea, through the tiered courses, to our custom choice of tea to finish with (mine was lemongrass ginger — a delicious little swamp in my own teapot).

It was a stellar experience, on par with any vegan meal I’ve had anywhere, even though we got there via a long country drive through flame-coloured autumn trees.

So that was good!

Then yesterday we went for a forest walk with our friends Sina and Levi and their crazy wet mop of a dog, Abby. We all came back to our house after for a junky take-out dinner (A&W veggie burgers for Craig and me), then we had a delicious coffee-walnut birthday cake that Craig made. His vegan icing turned out perfectly, which is a trick I’ve never mastered.

Afterward, we sat under the stars in the backyard and roasted marshmallows over a fire in the rusty $15 fire-pit Craig got from somebody online.

Kind of a perfect weekend, really!

I went to church with Mom yesterday morning — the first time they’ve been open since the pandemic began — and I was dragging my feet, quite enjoying all this time I haven’t had to go through any Christian motions.

In the end, though, it was really nice to see the members of that community again, for whom I have great affection and respect.

And the message of love melted my heart; it was something I needed to hear — with all the poison and hate emanating up from the States (well, from everywhere, it seems) and the uncertainty about the future. It was nice to be reminded that love is the one good human quality that could possibly save us, and the surest answer to any conflict in life.

When we arrived home Saturday night from our afternoon tea outing, we were faced with a message from our dog-sitter — written on goofy 1970s cartoon paper with a host of animals in a tree, but worded with the creepiest internet conspiracy warnings about Bill Gates, vaccines, the fake pandemic… all that nonsensical internet garbage. It made me distraught, disappointed, upset to read such illogic from a real person, not just online.

(Craig went over to pay her and get our house key, and I’m proud of him for not engaging with it when she started up, but recommending that she watch The Social Dilemma. You want a conspiracy theory? How about a business model based on broadcasting this dangerous nonsense to the whole world through a relentlessly refined campaign of persuasion?)

But after the service on Sunday morning I could see the situation with some compassion: We are all in danger and looking for information to help us transmute that into risk — something we can approach, mitigate, and handle with some confidence. It’s just a shame that there are so many huge commercial and political forces wilfully preying on these emotions.

So, um. Yes. That was my birthday weekend. (My birthday’s on Tuesday, but who makes big plans for a Tuesday? We have been invited, though, for a rare visit to Mom’s apartment!)

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