F 1 D 0 -- 2001 12 22 at 18 30 Thunder Bay is so warm. Oh, there was some snow on the way taking the bus out here. Enough to be blinding, enough to make the trip a bit scary. But it is gone. Today was a day for a brunch at Hoito. It turns out that Thunder Bay has the world's largest Finnish population living away from Finnland. So finding a place like this was easy. Walking distance! Their placemat talks a bit about this. Did you know Hoito (Care) Restaurant originated as an idea among Finnish bushworkers at Kallio's camp near Nipigon? When in the city, young single men had no trouble finding a room, but they apparently had difficulty obtaining a decent meal at a fair price. The founding meeting of HOITO was held on March 27, 1918. By May 1, the organizing committee had collected $300 in small loans from prospective customers, and commenced operations at the current location. From its inception, HOITO established a tradition of hearty food, large portions, low prices, and competitive wages. Until the 1970s the majority of the patrons purchased meal tickets, or paid the flat rate for all they could eat at the large communal dining tables. Each table accomodated up to twelve diners. In the 1960s the cost for dinner at these tables was 1.00, while in the 1930s it was 25 cents. Hoito still strives to maintain the old traditions. If you're still having trouble imagining this place, think of an all day breakfast place. Think of somewhere people are happy to line up for 15 minutes waiting for a table. Yesterday I had a bee in my bonnet, wanting to make some steel cut oats. This should be no big deal, really. Oats are common, right? Lots of Scottish people around, right (as this is a kind of porridge, I suppose). Well, I've not found them here. All of the oats are the same ones you can get. Rolled. Quick oats. Minute oats. Large flake oats. But they've all been rolled. The kind I wanted were bits of UNrolled oats. I'll keep you appraised on my luck. This is an interesting community. There are three music stores in walking distance from here. One of them has a jam every saturday, between 1-3pm. I'm going next week. I've prepared something for our gathering tonight. I mashed a third of a one-pound package of frozen Smoked Salmon Bits with an entire tile of Philadelphia cheese. It was thick, so I added a few spoons of 10% cream until I could whiz it with a hand blender thing. It is a lovely mash of creamcheese and salmon now. The weather is warm, but I'm about to go out and see if the raining has slowed or stopped. I could use some physical activity. Do I say that a lot? Yesterday I found my way to the Salvation Army thrift store. I picked up a lovely guitar. It has a broken back, and lots of other breaks. Well, it had a cost of 3.95 plus tax, and includes a case. I'm hoping to turn it into a multi string violinlike thing. I got to see Ann's studio. She teaches art and makes many huge works. There are real differences of style over the years. We were talking about how theatre has actors, called "players". And we play music. Well, She goes to her studio to play, and see what comes up. Eventually, something comes out of the canvas. That's all I know.