Cover photo from LeslievilleMural.com. Mural by Elicser Elliot.

Riverside → Leslieville

A couple months ago I wrote about buying a house. It had a sixty day close, so the math says we’re moving this week.

The sale officially closed Monday, and I picked up the keys that night. People are coming tomorrow to pack our stuff, and the movers come Friday. At some point we’ll have to move Kramer. We’re dreading that.

The loft we’re in now was a perfect fit when I bought it back in 2017. I’d always wanted a hard loft, and it was in an exciting new (to me) part of the city. But now, in COVID times, with no return-to-the-office seeming imminent, the openness that once made the loft charming now makes it stifling, as does the lack of outdoor space. That said, I like the loft and the building so much I’ve decided to hold on to it and rent it out — a pain in the ass I do not need, but I was loathe to part with the place, especially in this market.

I remain very excited (if a little apprehensive) about the house. It has four bedrooms, which — after having only an open loft with no walls for 3.5 years, might have been an over-vector — and a beautiful back yard. It’s on a street which has always been one of my favourites in the city. It’s only ten minutes’ walk from where we live now (though if Google Maps is to be believed, once one crosses East under the train tracks, one lives in Leslieville) which means many of our neighbourhood favourites — I’m looking at you, Chez Nous and Boxcar Social — will remain.

Wish us luck over the next few days. Especially with Kramer.

.:.

Cover photo from LeslievilleMural.com. Mural by Elicser Elliot.

The Lower Don

Three years after it re-opened (and us living practically next door to it) we finally walked part of the Lower Don River trail today. We Uber’d to the Brickworks, mistakenly thinking the trail was accessible from there, then walked the ~15 mins to the access point. What was meant to be a ~0:50 walk turned into ~1:20, but it was really nice. Even with the cars grinding down the DVP just out of sight, it felt nice to be surrounded by trees and water and scurrying wildlife.

We walked south under the Bayview exit, then under the Bloor viaduct, under Gerrard, and under Dundas, before climbing up the stairs to Queen Street. It immediately felt super-weird to be back in that kind of density.

It probably felt the least like Toronto of any place in Toronto I’ve been, but also made me feel more connected to the city than I have in months. I’m glad we snuck this in the week before we move to more than a stone’s throw from the Don.

lower don river trail
Image from BlogTO

.:.

Cover photo from the City of Toronto site

Cover photo by randy p, used under Creative Commons license

Civic duty

Back in December I got a summons. A summons for jury selection. Somehow, despite living in Toronto for almost 22 years, I’d never gotten one. But there it was, in the mail.

Weirdly, at least according to most people I knew who’d been summoned to jury selection, I was called on a Thursday. I wasn’t sure what to make of that, but I told my boss and booked off Thursday and Friday, thinking “Surely, it’ll be done in two days.” This past Thursday, at 9am, I reported for a jury selection panel at the courthouse on University Avenue.

As I took my seat on a hard, old bench that reminded me of the pews of my parents’ church before they added cushions, a bailiff (maybe? He referred to himself as more of a “greeter”) explained that the selection process could take five days. Eep. OK, so some rescheduling would be in order, but I’m in the lucky position of being able to manage that without being fired or neglecting a child, even if it would be a big pain in the ass.

The greeter then explained that Thursday panels are special panels, in that they’re intended to select 14 of the 280 prospective assembled jurors to serve in a much longer trial. Could be weeks, could be months. Panic gripped the room. Months? Seriously? Now I, too, was getting nervous. I have three trips booked in March, and work would get…well, completely away from me if I were stuck in a courtroom for months. Of course I want to do my civic duty, but holy smokes. Have (relative) mercy.

Eventually, the judge entered the room, thanked us for being there, and explained that the accused had plead guilty. We were free to go home, and excused from jury duty for three years. Shouts of joy, there were. A little inappropriate, given that courtrooms are meant to be somewhat more staid than that — and really, rooms away, someone had just committed to years in prison, so was our plight really so bad? — but I kind of understood. I felt relief too. But I do hope to serve on a jury one day. I know that sounds odd to most people, but as the judge that day pointed out it’s one of the few ways we as citizens are compelled (outside of paying taxes) to demonstrate our citizenship.

The next time I’m called I’ll try to remember that it’s not a burden, but rather a duty to be managed.

.:.

Cover photo by randy p, used under Creative Commons license

Third winter

While Toronto comes to grips with this crazy goddamn three-day rain/snow/ice storm I/we have been just trying to stay warm and fed.

On Friday I tried to meet someone at the new Walrus pub at Bay & Wellington at 5, which was a mistake, because it was a sea of suits. We opted instead for the chef’s table at Beerbistro, which were the last two seats they had, and any port in a storm and all that. Afterward I wanted some dinner while Lindsay made her way home on a train, and sandwiched between unsuccessful attempts to find a spot at a Keg and Ardo I ended up stopping in C’est What for a couple of drinks. Happily enough my buddy Jeff was working that night so we got to chat for a bit. I ended up just getting shawarma on my way home, which was delicious, even if it almost burned my face off.

Saturday morning I got up early, trying to get some errands done and supplies bought from St. Lawrence Market before the worst of the storm arrived. I did so, but later in the day we were both a bit hungry and decided to brave the ice pellets anyway, getting some lunch and beers at Eastbound.

After that it was all hatches being battened down as we huddled to watch the Raptors win game 1 of a series (finally!) and catch Lindsay up on Fargo and scarf pizza and Two Sisters cab franc.

Sunday was a whole lot of work and a little relaxation (including more Fargo) indoors as we tried to ignore the Hoth-like conditions outside our windows. We did have a delicious pasta and 2007 Nebbiolo to end the evening though.

“It’s a good job I’m in the Navy and you’re in the Army.”

 

This was supposed to have been a very productive weekend for our work. It…was not that, in the end.

Friday after work we managed to get a table at The Wren, one of our very favourite places in Toronto. Cool vibe, stellar food, top notch beer list. We split duck wings for a starter, then Lindsay got a burger and I had one of the best pulled pork sandwiches I’ve ever tasted. We started with the tap list (a Muddy York Haberdasher Hefeweizen and Bellwoods Jelly King for me) then we split bottles of the Bellwoods Weft & Warp 2017, the Bellwoods Dark Sour on Cherries, and a Boon Oude Geuze.

 

 

 

On Saturday the Bellwoods binge continued at La Carnita where we had a stellar brunch: chorizo verde, churro pancakes, and a couple of tacos to go with our bottles of Jutsu.

 

After brunch (and ice cream from Sweet Jesus) Lindsay went to find a quiet place to work; I went in search of a brand new brewery, Saulter Street, just around the corner. They appeared to just be opening for day #2; I took seat at the bar, sampled their Pilsner, and took home a howler (half-growler) for later. Nice little place.

 

After that Lindsay treated me to the deferred portion of my birthday gift: Dunkirk (imdb | rotten tomatoes) at the VIP theatre, followed by dinner at King Taps. I’d tried to get to King Taps before, after work once, but it was rammed. Like, lineup thirty deep out the door rammed. We figured it would be less busy on a Saturday night, but man…that place was like a pre-club hotspot. Weird crowd, most of whom seemed to be drinking cocktails or generic beer, not the absolutely outstanding rotating craft list or deep big-buy bottle list. We had a Duchesse de Bourgogne and a Bellwoods Jelly King and a Bench Simcoe Grove Dry Hopped Sour and a SBDL x Henderson Meyer Lemon Grisette and a Nickel Brook Redshift Cherry Sour and a very exciting bottle: a Cascade Brewing Noyaux sour. The 100 point rating on ratebeer was well-deserved — it was outstanding. Happy belated birthday to me! The beer, and the excellent food, made up for the douche-y vibe. Apparently craft taps are $5 on Sundays, so I think we have our game plan for next time.

 

We ended the night at Chez Nous, with plans for two glasses but only stamina for one. Boo.

Sunday we tried a place that’s pretty new at brunch: Eastbound. It was amazing. Lindsay had house-made sausage with eggs; I had an insane “sandwich” of maple bacon pancakes, eggs, and a piece of spicy fried chicken. Oh, and cheese biscuits with lobster butter. We rolled the fuck home.

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In the afternoon we were very generously invited to the beautiful backyard of some of Lindsay’s colleagues; we brought over some Benjamin Bridge rosé and Grange cab franc, and drank a bunch of their wine and enjoyed the weather.

 

We got a little day-drunk, bought some frozen yogurt, ordered pizza, had a tiny nap, and ate pizza while we watched Game Of Thrones.

We’re trying to take it easy this holiday Monday. So far so good, but I have a lot of beer in the fridge right now, so I’m reserving judgment.

Granted, I might need to buy something with colour in it

Slowly but surely, I am building an art collection worthy of hanging in this loft.

The first one I bought was from Krystina Stamatopolous:

Then, in Rwanda, I bought this one:

IMG_20160827_103152

Finally, my absolute favourite, by Daniel Hutchinson:

Then, at the Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition we bought a bunch of prints for a print wall, but I also bought this beautiful, delicate thing by Olga Klosowski:

The centerpiece of that print wall, by the way, will be this poster from Willi’s Wine Bar in Paris. Whew, colour!

1997_herxeimer_willis__93389.1425403163.1280.1280

.:.

Cover photo is another piece we bought at the Outdoor Art Exhibit, by Daniela Rojze

Cover photo from the Omaw website

Jed’s other festival

We spent our Thursday and Friday evenings attending parts of the Vector Festival here in Toronto:

Vector Festival is a participatory and community-oriented initiative dedicated to showcasing digital games and creative media practices. Presenting works across a dynamic range of exhibitions, screenings, performances, lectures, and workshops, Vector acts as a critical bridge between emergent digital platforms and new media art practice.

Thursday night was the opening was the launch party at Inter/Access, and while a bunch of what we saw was interesting, I was blown away by some of what we saw Friday night at Execute!  From Scene To Screen. From the site:

Vector co-founder Clint Enns curates an extraordinary screening that pays homage to the extravagant, edgy, and plain crazy history of the demoscene, a loose international community of programmers, hackers, musicians, and designers (originally involved in cracking video game copy protection) who create self-contained, audio-visual code-based works that range from minuscule visual abstractions to over-the-top epics. The majority of the work will be screened from executable files, rather than video, reframing the demo as a micro-cinema format.

He played the files using various emulators which got a little glitchy…which is part of the point. There were Amiga demos. Nintendo movies about Super Mario’s dementia. DOS animations. An unofficial video for a Grandaddy song (from The Sophtware Slump, which reminded me that I really need to re-listen to that album). Some kind of mutant hybrid where the file was both audio and animation.

There were Commodore C64 files, for fuck’s sake. And some of them made in this year. What a fascinating look into a scene that exists — somehow — out of sheer creativity and, I guess, patience. I remember C64 coding.

Also, when we left Inter/Access Thursday we had dinner at Omaw. I’d been wanting to try that place for a while, but it exceeded expectations. Here’s what came at us:

  • Excellent cocktails. Far better than the wine, frankly. If I go back I’ll stick with the cocktails.
  • Jambalaya fashioned into what looked like tiny balls of charcoal
  • A sheet of aged wagyu covered in peas and coffee succotash
  • Scallops with rice and coconut cream
  • Nashville hot chicken, basically five pieces of flattened boneless chicken covered in hot sauce. MY GOD this was good. I want it every, every day.

.:.

Cover photo from the Omaw website

 

Cover photo by Paul Downey, used under Creative Commons license

Leaving St. Lawrence Market

Almost ten years to the day after moving into this condo building, I’m moving out. I have a new place a few minutes east of here, in a cool new neighbourhood. I’m (almost) all packed and ready to go.

I’ve lived in two different units in this building, but I was one of the original occupants and this place definitely feels like home. Ten years is far longer than I’ve spent in any other building, apart from the family farm as a child.

But it’s time. Time for a different (smaller!) place, time to explore a new neighbourhood, and most of all: time for a change. Like our grandfather always said, a change is as good as a rest…and believe me, I could use the rest. It’s been a pretty ridiculous and stressful April.

In between packing and work and whatever else, I’ve been saying goodbye to my favourite things about the neighbourhood. The parks, the weird little alleys. The market, obviously, though I’ll be back in upcoming weekends. Fahrenheit, where I learned to love coffee. Triple A, still my favourite bbq in the city — thankfully, there’s another one near my new place. C’est What, one of my original craft beer experiences and source of so much comfort food. Batch, which took over a seemingly-cursed location but looks healthy. XO Bisous, my every-morning stop and home to the best pastries and nicest ladies ever.

Now, I’ll move to a neighbourhood with its own excellent restaurants and brewpubs and cafes and stuff. I can’t wait. I loved St. Lawrence Market, but I think I’ve done all it has to offer. It’s time for some change. It’s time for a new home.

I sure will miss this view though:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/ltdan/4760700793/sizes/l/

.:.

Cover photo by Paul Downey, used under Creative Commons license

Cover photo from Goodhood

Good hood

Last night I took a quick jaunt over to my (almost) new neighbourhood, met up with M2, and enjoyed a few more of the places which will soon be mine. Like KABOOM, a Korean fried chicken joint. And Hi-Lo, a dive-ish bar with decent beer and excellent music (Seriously, they played The Amps and Jay Reatard and a lot of other great stuff.) and we got all caught up. We also walked by Chez Nous, an all-Ontario wine bar which seems to have soft-opened.

I’m going to like it there, I think.

.:.

Cover photo from Goodhood

More like this, please

Uh, that was a ridiculously great long weekend.

Friday: we saw an amazing Japandroids concert (seriously, one of the best value-for-money shows I’ve ever seen) and had a late dinner at The Auld Spot.

Saturday: we drove to Beamsville in the beautiful sunny weather to sample wine and eat raclette at Hidden Bench, then do more tastings at Foreign Affair and Megalomaniac before heading home and getting fancy for dinner at The Chase. We had Perrier-Jouet Champagne and buratta, and scallops + pork belly with Chardonnay and Nebbiolo, and duck (me) and lobster cavatelli (Lindsay) with a fantastic bottle of Sangiovese. Dessert was a slightly disappointing (for me, anyway) honey pastry, but I came home and had some 1986 Don P.X. to make up for it.

Sunday: we were a little slow-moving, honestly, so not much happened until we had a halfway-decent-for-us lunch at b.good and a pint at Beerbistro before going home to watch Going Clear (imdb | rotten tomatoes). Unfortunately we ended the day with a somewhat gross AYCE sushi dinner that night at Fushimi.

Monday: we hung out in my (almost) new hood, hitting Boxcar Social for beers, L’il Baci for brunch (spicy pork balls, turducken balls, cocktails), Ed’s Real Scoop for ice cream, and Mercury for cortados. That night we made pasta we’d picked up at the market, and it was freaking delicious.

Whadda weekend.