Corner Store Revival – my March column for @AlbertaatNoon

Corner Grocer Goodies - photo - Karen Anderson

Corner Grocer Goodies – photo – Karen Anderson

Loblaws, Canada’s largest grocer, announced this week that they will add 50 stores and spend $1.2 billion on expanding their network and distribution. Walmart echoed this push announcing $300 million in expansion. Big chains are getting bigger. That is not a story.

The stories in the grocery world right now, for me, are two trends I’ve been watching.

One is happening in a big way south of the border with Amazon dot com. They’ve been a distributor of all things since the 90s and 15,000 dry good groceries for a good part of that. Now, in their home base of Seattle and Los Angeles, if you join Amazon Fresh and pay a fee of about 200 dollars a year, you can order online from a wide variety of grocers and specialty stores for home delivery. As you long as you order by 11 p.m. – for most items – that which you desire will arrive on your doorstep by 6 a.m. the next morning. No wonder Loblaws are looking into e-commerce to broaden their distribution. They might be looking at some very empty big boxes of stores if this catches on in Canada. They’ll have to go some to catch Amazon who’ve been doing e-everything since the 90s and who just spent $750 million on their inventory robotics systems. Now that is a big story but it’s not the one I’m going to focus on.

The trend I’m going to focus on is the opposite of big. It’s small in every way. It’s the revival of the corner grocer.

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Taste and memory blend in Mahabilapuram #Tamilnadu – South #India

tropical Tamilnadu - photo - Karen Anderson

tropical tamilnadu – photo – Karen Anderson

Mahabalipuram lies about an hour south of Chennai in the state of Tamilnadu in South India. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site because of the sixth to eighth century temples carved in great detail from rock and sand. They’ve withstood time. They’ve withstood Tsunamis.

The beach here is long, curved and cascaded upon by never-ending wave chasing wave. They’ve arrived in this little crook in the Bay of Bengal in a chaotic but somehow predetermined rhythm. They seem to collapse exhausted on the shore after realizing the futility of racing each other across the breadth of the Indian Ocean. Plunging into them at dawn you feel the strength the moon lends them in tidal force. They want to pull you to the ocean’s depths with them but just in time a bigger stronger wiser wave floats you safely to shore.

Temples and beaches are impressive attractions but my reason for being in Tamilnadu was to see a dear friend and meet and cook with his family. Read on for a crispy Tamilnadu lamb fritter recipe and a few photos from my recent visit.

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Art Installation #12 – @intuitivepics documentary – #Monsoon by Sturla Gunnarsson

My friend Dee Hobsbawn-Smith, just sent me a note saying I might like this movie, Monsoon. I quickly looked up the date for Calgary and see that I missed it by a few days. Now, just like the film crew I’ll be chasing a monsoon.

I would have loved this film and I’ll hope to see it yet. It won the People’s Choice award and was in the Top Ten films at the Toronto International Film Festival.

I just experienced my first real monsoon season in India last November. India heightens our awareness of humanity’s oneness. Monsoons manage to magnify that effect. Read on for more about what my initiation into monsoon culture was like and to learn about a special project the director of Monsoon, Sturla Gunnarsson, has started.

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My #Coffee Conundrum – home brewed coffee therapy with @philandseb

latte art - photo - Karen Anderson

latte art – photo – Karen Anderson

My Coffee Conundrum

I love coffee but for sometime now I’ve felt incapable of making it – so that it’s worth drinking – at home. How, in the year 2015, can someone actually say that? This story has been brewing in my mind for some time.

It’s “true confessions of a coffee lover” meets coffee therapy with my friends Phil Robertson and Sebastian Sztabzyb of Phil and Sebastian Coffee Roasters. It’s a cool thing to have expert friends to help you solve the puzzles of your life.

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Art Installation #11 – Mustering great choices for @HPRodeo 2015

Calgarians must go out...winter or no winter...thankfully our cultural offerings give us the will to do it - photo - Karen Anderson

Calgarians must go out…winter or no winter…thankfully our cultural offerings give us the will to do it – photo – Karen Anderson

Avenue magazine has done a great job of enticing people to ignore January and get out on the town for some High Performance in this year’s rodeo of the arts. Read High Performance Rodeo 2015 | Avenue Calgary for their picks in this walloping cure for the Arctic Chills we’re all experiencing.

You can check out the whole High Performance Rodeo program here. It runs January 7 to February 1, 2015.

My friend Tonya Lailey works with Theatre Junction and is thrilled with their offering for the festival this year: Untitled Feminist Show by Young Jean Lee.pdf

Read on for the naked truth about this boundary pushing performance.

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XYZ – an alphabet for what I hope is my mid-life in the year 2015

I'm happy with who I am at this point in my life - photo by my friend  Pauli-Ann Carriere

I’m happy with who I am at this point in my life –
photo by my friend Pauli-Ann Carriere

I’ve never believed in New Year’s resolutions but I do like to think about how I live my life each day.

I’m 53. I hope to live till I’m 100 so I’ve accepted that I am now in the middle of my life should I get my wish to live to be a centenarian.

When I was about three years old I learned my ABC’s. That’s been useful – especially as a writer – but as I toddle my way into mid-life I’ve been thinking about another use for those 26 letters. I think their convenient format can be borrowed to lend structure to this new time in my life – life beyond A is for apple, B is for boy and C for cat.

This alphabet starts at X because…

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Art Installation #10 – making #TheHumanConnection with photographer @jeremyfokkens

making the coffee connection with Jeremy Fokkens - photo - Karen Anderson

making the coffee connection with Jeremy Fokkens – photo – Karen Anderson

Black and white – these photos look you in the eye. Some of smiles and some of question marked faces, but all with subjects caught fully present in the moment with the man on the other end of the lens. Stark, bold – sometimes bare naked and raw. Joy, bliss, pain, despair; nothing shielded; nothing held back. A journey into life and its balancing forces. Life revealed in Nepal and Bangladesh. Powerful stuff.

Read on for a few photos from Jeremy Fokken’s book The Human Connection and a little bit about the man himself.

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