Category Archives: Reasons Not to Leave?

Two Steps Back

Our trip back to our old stomping grounds in Toronto was all at once exciting, fun, sad, exhausting, and surreal.

IMG_3115The surreal part came when we wandered into stores or through our old school and people just smiled and nodded to us as if we’d never left. Very Rip Van Winklish.

The excitement of leaving the city for a great adventure helped us to skim over the sadness of goodbyes last year, but that sadness hit my better half like a Mack truck on this trip. It all came to a head after dinner with her best Toronto friend, when she realized we wouldn’t see her again before we left town. L absolutely lost it, howling with despair and spitting out those fearsome words “Why did we even have to move?!” and “Why didn’t you ask me if we should move?!”

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After the tears subsided she rallied somewhat, because she is nothing if not a trooper, but ever since  that night she’s been a bit fragile, especially when it comes to her friends here. We just don’t have as many of them as we did in Toronto, I guess.

Plus when she gazes at the city lights she becomes rapturous. She does love the city.

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Things to Do in Toronto When You’re Undead

IMG_3189We’ve just had a Fantastic Big City Hallowe’en! Even with the rain it was great to be back in the old neighbourhood for trick or treating.

First we dropped in on our old school and their costume parade… Continue reading

Library Love

I came across this last week and it made me nostalgic for the grand old Toronto Public Library system: Ten Reasons to Love the TPL. I worked for the TPL for a while – in the cataloguing department but also in a very busy branch for a few months – and got a bit of an inside look at a very complex organization. I was working there the ominous year that the boss’s title was quietly changed from “Head Librarian” to “CEO”, which sent a chill throughout the organization. The TPL is not without its inefficiencies, errors and information gaps, employee tribulations and politics, but the biggest strain on the system always came from the fact that it is so well-used by SO many people. And the biggest headache has always come from governments prowling about the periphery hunting for cost-cutting measures. It’s a never-ending struggle to keep services available, but the bookish folk of Hogtown are always ready to jump into the fray, armed with their petitions and placards, with Margaret Atwood sounding the charge…

The Runnymede Branch of the Toronto Public Lib...

Runnymede Branch of the TPL (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The reason the protests usually succeed is that the TPL works and is depended upon and loved by so many. The branches are numerous, from tiny friendly places to grander historic buildings. I lived in many different neighbourhoods and always found a library relatively close by. I could place holds for any title in the vast holdings and have it delivered to my own wee branch around the corner, a feature that I positively adored. And one of my favourite (geeky) ways to spend a day was to head to the Toronto Reference Library to do research, abetted by the truly lovely staff there. I miss it all so!

English: Toronto Reference Library

Toronto Reference Library (Wikipedia)

In my new home on the island, I am incredibly lucky to have a brand new library facility, so new it positively sparkles. And to my utter disbelief, it seems that this gorgeous building has aroused some amount of “I’m agin’ it!” from the anti-whatever-is-going crowd here. The building is too big, too showy. We don’t need anything that large. It doesn’t match the bank across the road. Can’t we just go back to the old library, cramped and decrepit, with the leaking roof?

Reading letters to the editor moaning about our unnecessary “rolls royce library” makes my blood pressure sky rocket, so I won’t go into this issue much further, save to say that the nay-sayers seem to have forgotten about the existence of children on the island. Even if there wasn’t a single adult who used the library, the mere fact that there are children here warrants the best and most excellent library we can possibly build.

Saltspring Library (photo credit John Cameraon)

Saltspring Library (photo credit John Cameron)

And when you build a large library, with awe-inspiring architecture and a spacious, serene interior, what message does that pass on to the following generations?

Reading is important.

Books and knowledge are valued in our community.

Take a look at these – 11 Beautiful Libraries From Around the World – and tell me you don’t get that message from these buildings!

I can tell you, you wouldn’t get an iota of opposition to a new library – any new library – from the embattled library patrons* of Toronto, be it Rolls Royce or Studebaker.

*I prefer the old term “patrons” to the new one that was brought in when the Head Librarian morphed into a CEO: “customers”

Step 68: The Last Night

favourite restaurant – Yumi sushi


Last dinner out, and farewell to other favourite places in Bloor West Village…

Jane-Bloor Diner

Our favourite old-school diner, complete with pictures of hockey players and race horses on the walls, and old-timers sitting at the counter. The first place that Lizzie ever blew bubbles in a glass of milk with a straw.

Lizzie’s favourite smoothie place

Lizzie will miss this place!

fountain at Jane and Bloor

This is the spot where they put a big Christmas tree made of lights every year, and a rather alarming Santa Claus totters around the crowd.

After wandering through the neighbourhood on a gorgeous warm summer evening, we end up at the house of my best friend, ally, support, comedic relief, sympathetic ear, cocktail taster, organizational whirlwind, style counsel, shopping guru, and fount of general good advice. Hard to leave!

ooooh so tired!

 

last sleep in an empty house

Step 62: Farewell Tour of Toronto

To be honest, we started this last fall, when we went up the CN Tower. There were a few places we’ve never been that I thought we should see before we leave. Our tour has included:

CN Tower

meeting a celebrity at Word on the Street

Royal Winter Fair

the Santa Claus Parade

Casa Loma

Ontario Science Centre

Step 60: Goodbye Parties

Right into the goodbyes right now, and I’m finding it harder than I expected. Lizzie, too, is acting a little oddly, upset over the smallest things, then manic activity. I think it’s taking us both by surprise.

On Saturday I had to say goodbye to my mom’s group. That was hard. Thrown together by chance and new-motherhood, we have bonded beyond any of our wildest expectations. We just happened to share the most dramatic adventure of our lives with each other, that’s all. And here we are, six years later, still friends and still getting together for wine, conversation and laughs. I don’t have family members living nearby and these ladies have filled in that gap just beautifully.

I hope they don’t mind me posting this photo, but I just want to share with you some of the smartest, funniest, most warm and caring women I know. (And their terrific kids!)

The Grass is Not Only Not Greener on the other side of the fence, It Appears to be Dead

Talking here about schools. Our public school here in Toronto is over 90 years old, has 1000 students (capacity 800) and is literally falling apart, but rather than spending money on basic infrastructure the Ontario Dept. of Education would rather splurge on forcing every school  – whether they have the space or not – to make the switch from half-day to all-day kindergarten.

(Deftly turning a daycare issue into an education system issue. What we really need are affordable daycare spots, not a plan to shoehorn more kids into an underfunded school system!)

It’s a simple, predictable problem. In our school, as in others, the morning kindergarten classes share the same classrooms with the afternoon kindergarten classes, naturally. Soooo, if everyone does full-day, you need twice the number of classrooms.

We’re just lucky we got through kindergarten here before our school switched, because I don’t know where they’re going to put everyone – in the hall? the gym? the furnace room?

And luckily we got through our two years of junior and senior kindergarten fully staffed with teachers and teaching assistants before they lowered the axe on the TA’s just recently. Also thankfully the teachers the Boss has had have been extraordinary – warm and caring and professional and helpful despite being constantly hobbled by gov’t directives. Also also also thankfully we’ll be moving before she becomes immersed in the teach-to-the-test idiocy of the upper grades.

And don’t even get me started on the french immersion mania that goes on in my neighbourhood. (Recently leading to boundary changes for the school and much parental hysteria.)

And yet…

We seem to be headed to an even more dysfunctional Dept. of Education, in B.C., where they’d rather spend money putting iPads in the hands of every child than pay teachers a decent wage and allow them to do their jobs.

I am a staunch supporter of public schools, I am loyal to them and believe in public education with all my heart. But heavy-handed government interference and lack of adequate funding is really starting to make home-schooling look darn good.

In the end, however, we’ll stay in the system, just because the teachers are so wonderful.

Toronto: the Good Stuff

On Saturday we took a long subway ride downtown to see a play – a matinee at the Lorraine Kimsa Young People’s Theatre – and ran into fantastic music at every turn. Lovely subway buskers, including one fantastic mbira (thumb piano) player, and outside St. Lawrence Market we came across this:

(They are the Lemon Bucket Orkestra, self-billed as “Toronto’s only balkan-klezmer-gypsy-party-punk super-band”.)

Then just inside the market, only a few feet away, a string quartet.

Add to that a great play, yummy lunch and coconut buns, and I am left with a definite warm fuzzy feeling toward the big city.

(p.s. Sorry for the crazy camera moment in the middle of the video, but the Boss started wandering off…)