Tag Archives: toronto

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?!”

IMG_3124

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.

IMG_3146

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”

Santa Comes to Saltspring

What a gorgeous day! We walked down to the dock at about five minutes to 1, and Santa flew in pretty much on time. The small crowd greeted him, high fives were exchanged, and we were strolling outta there by about half past one.

A little easier to take than the cold, crowded marathon event of the Santa Claus Parade in Toronto…

Step 77: Escape the Funnel

As we drove away, away, ever away from Toronto, I couldn’t help but notice that for days and days Toronto kept popping up on freeway signs. Like it was lurking about, waiting for a chance to reel me back in. Just a moment’s inattention at an interchange and BAM! I’d find myself looping back towards the Big TOe.

One of my biggest complaints with Toronto has always been that it’s so hard to escape from! It takes hours just to get out of the place, through butt-ugly industrial wastelands, jostling elbow to elbow with crazed drivers weaving wildly from lane to lane. It’s gruesome. And if you ever do manage to get away for a relaxing weekend, you always have ahead of you the drive back into Toronto, which obliterates all the effects of the previous relaxation.

And yet, even when we were eight or nine hours north of the city, I still felt like, one wrong turn later, we could be right smack back in rush hour at Yonge and Bloor in just half an hour’s time.

This is what southern Ontario feels like:

Or more precisely:

I am that spinning quarter, drawn inexorably down, down into the vortex that is Toronto.

Step 76: Always Appreciate Good Fortune

The day before our moving truck came I blithely drove over to my storage space to bring home the last item. All by myself. I got it this far on a hot Sunday afternoon with not a soul in sight to ask for a hand. I always appreciate an impossible situation so I paused for a moment just to laugh at myself and take photos. (I wanted photographic evidence of my amazing strength and fortitude.)

As I was putting the camera away and rolling up my sleeves I heard a voice behind me…

“Would you like a hand with that?”

I’d like to think that I would have manhandled that couch into the car if I’d had to, but when it came right down to it, on another scorching hot afternoon in the big city, I was glad to accept a little help.

Many thanks to a kind stranger!

Step 74: Drive off into the sunset…

Good idea, hit the highway right during the evening rush hour with the sun in your eyes. D’oh!

Fill up the tank and be sure to leave the gas cap sitting on the top of the pump. D’oh!

Miss an exit and get thoroughly lost.* Will we ever get out of this city?? (shaking fist at sky) Torontooooooo!

*(Only briefly. Thanks Google maps!)

Step 72: Extricate Yourself

Just when I thought I was out… they pull me back in. – Michael Corleone

At some point during our epic last day in Toronto I had a sense of being ensnared… it just went on and on and we couldn’t get away… it was as if the city was reaching out to grab onto my leg, howling “don’t go!”… we were caught in a sticky web of complications and endless things-to-take-care-of. Besides the spontaneously regenerating piles of stuff to clear out (see step 71), there always seemed to be just one more task, one more, one more, one more…

Like in the horror movie when, just as you’re turning to leave the cemetery… a bony hand shoots out of the earth to seize your ankle in a hellish death-grip!

Aieeeee!

Must… leave… town… Must… get… away…

Noooooo! Don’t go!

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 67: Perform Last Seasonal Rituals

One of our favourite things to do on long weekends in the summer is to jump on the bike after dark – Lizzie in her jammies – and just follow the sound of fireworks… follow them to wherever they’re being set off by generous neighbourhood dads and giddy teenagers, in parks, schoolyards, soccer fields, or even (ill-advisedly) from balconies and on street corners.


Happy Canada Day, Toronto!