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Easy Is In the Eye Of The Beholder Click Here To Comment!

About nine years ago, I had a short but mind-blowing chat with a woman in the choir-of-my-past. She had gotten involved with a woman who was living at quite a distance from Toronto and I had just struck up an intense long-distance connection with a woman in Copenhagen.  As one does, one tries to seek some common ground and I said to her, “It is hard, isn’t it? Trying to manage building a relationship, a connection, at a distance?” And she looked at me with a penetrating, quizzical expression and said, “Why does everyone say that, that distance relationships are so hard? Who ever said that moving in together or getting married was easy? It is just what people are used to, what they view as ‘normal’. But in fact it is very hard. But people are used to that pattern so it gets called ‘easy’.  You and I know that it isn’t easy, either way. So follow your heart.”

She gave me a lot to think about, as she usually did, in our little mid-rehearsal chats.

I’ve thought about this a lot lately, and not so much in relation to the fact that I have, indeed, moved in with the lovely Knotty Girl and her (mostly) adorable children. That part is as hard/easy/magnificent/mundane/challenging/fun/exciting/surprising/normal/frustrating/puzzling/funny/beautiful as it is supposed to be. I’m thinking more about the reactions people have had to me appearing to have gone mad by moving a vast distance out of the city.

The established, expected “pattern” would be to live close to work and to stay within spitting distance of the city that I’ve come to love and feel nurtured by. But is that truly the “easy” choice, or just the “expected” choice? How “easy” is it to live in very dense proximity to strangers who behave in unexpected ways, to cope with traffic that is worsening daily, to have very limited access to greenspace, to have to plan carefully one’s route to across town and back to account for time of day, traffic, road closures, protests, events and water main breaks?

The breaking point for me, where the rose-coloured glasses filtering “easy” fell off my eyes, happened one day when Knotty Girl and I pulled up to the arena for a hockey game and were astounded to witness a man stopping on the lawn in front of our car, pulling down his pants and defecating right in front of us. He just did his bidness and pulled his pants up and walked on. That was the beginning of the end for me living downtown. It was no longer “easy” and I could no longer pretend that I found it to be so.

I am, after all, a country girl. I am used to having cows, horses or pigs poo’ing in front of me. Not people.

My gorgeous condo was starting to feel cramped by lack of access to the outdoors and hauling bags of heavy groceries and hockey gear up three flights of stairs no longer seemed as easy as it once did.  In fact, everything about city living started to feel cramped. Space is entirely at a premium, be it space to put a vehicle or space to put a desk to work at. Even space at Starbucks, for those with laptops and that need for the unique focus that public space can provide, can be hard to come by.

I was raised in a huge, rambling, rickety farmhouse with seven bedrooms and two kitchens. We had 750 acres of land, much of which was at my disposal to roam, plow or play cops/robbers/army/spy or whatever, with or without my little buddies. The brickwork in the house was so weak in some spots, like “my” tv watching spot in the living room, that you could feel the wind blow against your ankles for six months of the year. But it sure was big. And there was room for everyone.

Is it “easy” to live far from the city, work, friends and hockey? Not always. Does it feel more “normal” to me? Yes, actually it does. We watch the weather closely, we plan and prepare for things (usually) in a more considered way. We are distracted by birds at the feeders, by the arc of snow blowing in clumps off the trees and glinting in the sunlight, by the size and proximity of the full moon against a black sky, by the wild turkeys and their crazy footprints across the snow on the ice rink. This feels preferable to being distracted by car alarms, traffic tie-ups, unintelligible arguments in grocery stores and sirens. We are responsible for solving a lot of our own problems out here, or at least being somewhat prepared for them.

A few months ago, as Hurricane Sandy approached the North American coast line, Knotty Girl and I spent about two hours getting ready. We gathered up all that might blow around on our property and stashed it safely. We shopped. We parked our cars out of possible treefall zones. We charged up all our flashlights and other devices. The weather models didn’t really suggest we would get hit hard but we’ve come to learn that weather forecasting is a less-than-exact science. It was best to be ready. And we were. I slept so well that night, having done all that we could think of to minimize damage and maximize continuity of lifestyle. We woke up to a few small branches down on the lawn. The hydro didn’t even go out.

My point is that we had some things we could do to make ourselves as prepared as possible. I don’t find this as easy in the city, especially in living spaces like condos. I did make sure that I had a gas fireplace and a gas stove in my place and hoped I could operate them if the hydro were out for an extended period. Hauling items up and down the three flights of stairs was a trade off for not having to rely on an elevator. The hydro did go out a couple of times in the nine years I lived there and I was grateful for having heat, cooking ability, and normal access to my abode.  But I couldn’t make my neighbours take their patio furniture and flower boxes off their balconies so that these items wouldn’t blow through MY windows. I’d be rewarded with a door slammed in my face if I tried such a thing. I couldn’t make all my condo neighbours be mindful of allowing strangers into the property and many of us were rewarded with an expensive overnight car break-in spree a few years ago.  Hell – the city can’t even make dog owners be accountable for dog poo and that problem seemed to get worse and worse in my neighbourhood over the years.

I apologize for the poo theme. One might think that I have a shitty opinion of downtown life. I don’t entirely. Let’s just say it lost its glamour for me and I’m feeling less claustrophobic and more able to make choices about how things happen out here, away from the city lights.  Easy? Not entirely. Preferable? Yes. More deeply familiar to me? Completely.

Jack Layton 3 comments

It is the day after Jack Layton’s funeral, and much of what needs to be said has been said.  I can’t add to the eloquence of a Stephen Lewis, or to the raw beauty of people speaking with their feet, their chalk, their bicycle bells, their hearts.

Some of what was said really didn’t need to be said – and I’m talking to you, Christie Blatchford.

For me, there are three small but significant pieces to this story that haven’t been reviewed to my satisfaction, and I hope to address them here.

Health: When I hear the name “Jack Layton”, the image I have in my head is of an incredibly fit, active, healthy, vibrant man. A man who, even in a busy, active life, clearly made time to exercise. I have no information on his dietary choices. From my vantage point – 99% off the television and 1% from seeing him up close at Pride every year – he looked the picture of health. Always.

I’m finding it hard to draw a conclusion from this outcome. That someone whose physical presence always radiated health and vitality can be cut down by cancer. Of course, I have been surprised and made anxious as I watch some of my “picture of health” friends struggle with the disease. We are told to exercise, to watch our weight, to eat properly.  A huge industry has arisen, selling all manner of health supplements to ward off cancer and other insidious physical ailments. Yet, one has to wonder what is written into our DNA upon conception, and that if our time has arrived, it has arrived and no amount of Greens Plus, broccoli or cardio is going to challenge that programming.

Elizabeth May: Where are you?  Perhaps it is a trick of the media, like a trick of the light, that your voice has been quite absent this week. I see you as a well-spoken woman who usually has something insightful to say. Yet the Green Party has issued a boilerplate condolence message and left things there. I think we need more from the leader of the Greens on the occasion of losing the national party leader who was, in many ways, most closely aligned to that party’s views. Elizabeth – perhaps you weren’t close, and perhaps there was rancour, but leadership demands some class from you at this point.

Apology To Former Students of Indian Residential Schools: On June 11, 2008, the Canadian Parliament apologized – finally – for the treatment of First Nations children and families. What seems to have been overlooked was Jack’s role in encouraging and guiding the Government of the day – specifically, Prime Minister Stephen Harper – to take this action. Prior to making the official apology, Stephen Harper acknowledged Layton’s role in making this happen. Here is Jack Layton making his apology in the House of Commons on that day.

Jack says in this address in June 2008 that this is a beginning, not an ending. Here is Jack, two months plus a day before his death, June 21, 2011, still pressing the government to take action on improving living conditions for our Aboriginal peoples.

I haven’t heard a word about this part of Jack’s work this week, and I wanted to give it a bit of air time. This was a man who was comfortable operating in the full public eye and, yet, able to work behind the scenes in concert with his political foes to get important items hauled to the forefront and dealt with. There is lots to miss about Jack Layton. The part we will miss, without even knowing it existed, is the part in which he laboured, and encouraged others to labour, quietly behind the scenes to achieve momentous things.

We need so many more like him, and yet are granted so few per generation. Salut, Jack, et merci.

Space 4 comments

It has been weeks, months, of managing space. Of living in limbo as Knotty Girl and I try to blend our lives in the midst of challenges that are completely unrelated to this blending. KG trying to manage her mother’s complex health and personal affairs. Me trying to get my head around my working life and trying to “vacation” while doing so. Me living partially in my staged, listed condo space, partially at KG’s temporary house-sitting space.  One foot here, one foot there. As I type this now, I’m sitting in a local, newly discovered pub to accommodate a showing of my condo space.

Everyone who “knows” my living space of the last seven years seems to love it. Many of my friends have said, “If my life pointed me to living in downtown Toronto, I’d buy your place in a heartbeat.”  That is sweet and heartfelt. However, the market is indicating something different. When surrounded by new, highly-amenitied high rise glass and steel towers, my little low-rise loft – lacking in the concierge, the marble foyer, the in-house gym – seems to lack the glassy cubicle coldness that the market seems to expect.

If only my walls could talk. I purchased the place from architectural rendering before the shovel hit the ground in May 2002. I waited, impatiently, in a 400 sq. ft. basement apartment until July 2004 to move in. The first six months were hell, with 57 items incomplete on the construction list, including two out of three sinks missing. Much of my valued stuff in storage had been wrecked through dampness and I thought I’d made a huge mistake with the whole thing. However, about six months in, everything seemed to settle a bit. I started to enjoy the magnificent space, the location, my neighbours. A community started to form in the building, paint got up on previously stark white walls, and the space started to really feel like home. Meals prepared and enjoyed. Rehearsals for plays and music performances.  Laughter. Socks and underwear even careening off the ceiling fan from time to time.  (Perhaps I should put that in the listing.)

I have called this space my “oasis in the city” and it has felt like this – a quiet, secure, healing place. There has been much to heal from, as there often is in an examined life.  It has felt safe and protective, yet welcoming and communal. It is, as a space, special to me. The walls, now freshly repaired from nail holes and scuff marks, and beautifully painted, have wrapped around me, fitting whatever needs I have had, from rehearsal space to party space to gallery space to quiet reflective space to new love space.

Time passes and a home can be outgrown, as is the case now. There is no room for KG’s two children, not to mention a workshop and another office. To pass this space on, I want to reminisce, to help them “feel” it … to feel as comfortable, relaxed, open as I have felt – more comfortable than I could ever feel in a glass tower overlooking a cityscape. To help them feel the sense of community that they can help build anew, just by their presence in this space.

But listings don’t work that way, and some decisions are made with the cold reality of interest rates, square footage, and the fitting of furniture and placement of televisions. However, life does not work that way. A peaceful, quiet, light-filled space in a downtown location is surely worth some fiddling around with sofas and entertainment solutions.

In truth, with the staging, it feels much less like my space than it once did. I’m curiously enjoying the neat and tidy minimalist lifestyle. But I can’t cook big complex meals …  or bacon. Everything I take out of cupboards or drawers has to be put back. None of the detritus of day-to-day life – receipts, pocket change, scraps of paper with shopping lists, odds and ends – can be visible.  The place feels sanitized and so much less personal. This, however, is in an effort to help the next person visualize themselves in this space. Their colours, their art, their detritus. Their laughter, their love, their life. I know when this space finds its next occupant, it will respond to their needs as beautifully as it has responded to mine. And this thought makes me smile.

In Cognito 4 comments

I had an unexpectedly quiet day today. I had, in my head, held part of the day open for a meeting that wound up being deferred. So, I had only one concrete reason to leave my house – a scheduled visit to donate blood.

Blood donation is a social behaviour I can get quite evangelical about. The downsides, as far as I can see, are tolerable. It does take time out of one’s day, but only once every 56 days. The interrogation process, designed to root out all manner of possible blood-borne cooties, is tedious, irritatingly repetitive, short-sighted and lesbophobic. Or certainly lesbo-blind. One steels oneself to be asked peculiar details about one’s sexual history by a stranger, the RN. Today, when the particularly nervous RN started what felt like her 10th question that began with “Have you had sex with a man who has … ” I interrupted her, as I am wont to do, with “All my sexual partners, for the last 24 years, have been women.” She glanced up from the page momentarily and stammered, “I really DON’T need to know that,” and continued with her questioning about whether or not I’ve recently had sex with a man who has handled monkey fluids. They also want to know if I’ve paid, or been paid, in exchange for sex. I wanted to respond “With or without monkey fluids?” but I held my tongue. We had a bit of a tussle, as we always do, about the details regarding Liberia as a nation in Africa and my unfortunate need to be honest about having had a relationship with a woman who was born there. Many years ago. I can’t help it ~ they ask and I answer. They don’t really seem to care about Liberia, per se, but are very keen to know if she lived “anywhere else” in Africa. This is asked with an edge of mystery to it. Not only did she not live anywhere else in Africa, she wasn’t sexuality active for the period of time she WAS in Africa. But this seems of less interest.

I am aware of Canadian Blood Services’ (CBS) equally blindered policy regarding not allowing gay men to donate but I think my outrage at this stance is a poor reason not to donate when, as the slogan says, I have it in me to do so. We only have one blood service and they need our raw material. I will, and do, find other ways to educate on this matter.

It hurts a bit when the needle goes in, and also when it comes out.

That’s it for downsides, as far as I can see. Time, bizarre scrutiny, an efficient but tunnel-visioned organization, and a needle ouchie.  For this, you get an update on your blood iron, accurate blood pressure and heart rate readings between check-ups, samples of your blood get tested for the afore-mentioned cooties, and you get all the peach juice and Dad’s Oatmeal cookies you can eat afterwards. Today, though, they had a tray of yummy day-old treats from Starbucks, which was a special bonus. It is like a temporary licence to eat sugar.

Oh, and your blood goes to help someone somewhere, once it passes muster. S’all good.

So, with no other business to attend to outside my abode today, I schlepped over to the clinic in my schlepping around the house clothing. Jeans, grey t-shirt with a sort of swirly applique on it (dubbed the tattoo t-shirt by my “personal trainer”), blue flannel shirt (open), and my cool new hockey hat, a sort of skull cap black toque, pulled down over my ears. Blundstone boots. I’m not sure what I looked like but, if asked, the nurses would not have immediately shouted out, “Professor of Business and Technology!” or “Business Consultant!” if they were lined up, Family Feud style, and quizzed about my supposed line of work.  I was “in cognito” or, more accurately, I let my schlep-self come out for some fresh air.

The signals were mixed, though. Blundstones aren’t cheap, although mine are quite “distressed”. I had both a Blackberry and an iPod. My coat gives me away as a non-vegetarian, monied kinda gal. But my coat was in the coat cupboard for most of my visit and I think I came off as an articulate unemployed person with a technology addiction and extraordinary good luck at Goodwill.

While sipping my peach juice in the little lounge area after donating, I was joined by a friendly young man who had just finished donating a few minutes after me. He was seeking some juice and a cookie or two. I directed him to the tray of Starbucks goodies and his eyes lit up. One of the efficient nurse/phlebotomists, Lucy by her name tag, offered to fetch him his juice of choice. She bustled off to pour his juice when he responded “orange”. Lucy bustled, that is the only way to describe her movement. She was a bustler, all around the clinic it seemed. But then, suddenly, all her make-work movements stilled and she came and sat down with us. Friendly Man asked her how long she had to train to become an RPN.  Lucy replied, in an pronounced Chinese accent, “Eight months at private college. But at public college, takes two years.” She nodded wisely. “But … back in China, I am doctor. So I did private college. Could do it fast.” Friendly Man and I looked at each other with a mixture of sorrow, resignation and embarassment. “I’ve just been served peach juice by a highly skilled, underutilized, and underpaid medical professional,” was all I could think for several minutes.

Lucy went on to tell more bits of her story, gently prodded from time to time by Friendly Man. I quietly nibbled my cookies and drank my juice like a little kid in jammies being told a story at bedtime. Lucy shrugs off and accepts the inability of the Canadian govenment to “spend the money” it needs to if foreign-trained professionals are to get certification here. She shrugs and says, “I knew this … my decision to come anyway.” She is actually a fully trained gynecologist and her husband is a hemotologist. In China, you go directly from high school to medical school. “I do not understand … why four years undergraduate here before med school? Waste of time! You smart, you go to med school right away! Get training early. No need for literature or politics before medical school. Waste of time.” This speech was accompanied by many hand gestures.  She then explained that, of eight years in medical school, two years are spent studying Chinese traditional medicine. “This is mandatory, must have both traditional Chinese and Western medicine in China.” So, now, her husband practices Chinese medicine from their home and has clients from all over the province and New York State, some of whom drive hours to see him.  Lucy shrugged and smiled and chewed her gum, “It is better here anyway. It works out.”

There was silence for a while and I drained my second cup of peach juice. This caused the “bustle” switch to be thrown in Lucy and she jumped up. “You want more peach juice?”

“No,” I smiled almost apologetically, “No, this is fine. I should be on my way.” Lucy smiled and thanked me, and Friendly Man, for donating. We both mumbled something. What does one say?

Clearly, I wasn’t the only person in that clinic who was “in cognito” this morning. The difference, as far as I can see, is that I had a choice about which element of myself I would present to the world this morning. Lucy was robbed of some pretty significant options when she arrived here. She claims she came “by choice” but, of course, one wonders how bad it has to be in the country of origin for a person to willingly give up their trained professional qualifications for a new life in a foreign land. The inner peace it must take to be happy with bustling around a blood donor clinic instead of practicing medicine, even when the need is great in many areas of this country, is humbling. And I am reminded that we are all, in some way, each day, in cognito. We choose what we reveal, who we are, in each moment and, in the reality of our complexities as human beings, we highlight different things in different moments, letting other elements fade to shadow, even if only briefly. We can’t possibly reveal all, each moment and in each interaction. Those who try are quickly dismissed as “socially inept”. So we learn what, and how much, to reveal to whom. I can’t help wishing, for Lucy, that she had as much choice as I did this morning about who she could be. I think we’d all be better served by such freedom for her.

Buried Treasures 2 comments

I received the following by e-mail from a Handbasket lurker, a.k.a. Katje’s Auntie:

I am forever amazed at the items that reveal themselves as the snow melts. This week has been a particularly rich experience since the snow melted so quickly that the volume of exposed materials was far greater than usual. Anyway, as we were walking (and sidestepping) I spotted a lemon timidly protruding from a snowbank at about the 3 foot level (can we time deposits like archaeologists?). It was bright enough to catch my attention. Fully 2/3 exposed, I had to have a closer look. The lemon was intact, blemish free, pleasantly plump. I couldn’t help but wonder how it got there. It was too far from the garbage can area of the lawn. It hardly seems the type of thing to jump out of someone’s grocery bag. And I can’t imagine one of the local kids losing it from their lunchbag. (maybe it’s something to do with global warming?)

So, I’m curious as to what’s the strangest thing you or your audience have come across this past week as the snow temporarily recedes? I remember the shoes/food items you photographed last year and can only wait to hear what treasures are discovered this week.

Temporarily recedes? Pshaw! This is spring, my friend!!! 😉

A quick snow melt does reveal lots and and we dog-walkers are front-line witnesses. I can’t say that what Freddie and I have been discovering is always pleasant. For example, there is now clear evidence that other dog owners are not nearly as diligent as some of us are about picking up poo. I don’t know how many times this week I’ve rescued Freddie’s, er, output while staring at many months worth of similar output in the same vicinity. One wonders in these moments if such diligence is worth the effort.

One of my hockey buddies commented the other day about a bicycle that is being slowly revealed from under a massive pile of snow on a street corner. The bike was chained to a street sign and then buried under months of actual fallen snow, topped by snow removal snow. As the snow has started to fade, the bicycle has emerged. It is one of these gorgeous new but old-fashioned “sit up and beg” style bikes with big fat white-walled tires, no gears and a snazzy orange paint job. My friend, a bike-lover, railed against the absentee owner of the bike. “Who would abandon such a beautiful bike to the elements? How irresponsible! If I could pick locks, I’d snag that bike, take it home, clean it up and love it like it deserves to be loved!” I’m thinking about taking bolt cutters to our next game in that neighbourhood.

A fellow walker and I were discussing the mysteries of buried snow treasures in the park the other day. She offered up a story about some winter camping she did a few years ago. A sudden thaw happened mid-trip. The campers decided to go for a hike around a lake on foot/snow-shoe. As they rounded a turn in the path and looked out at a secluded bay, they saw an antler protruding up out of the now-slushy ice surface. A moose had gotten trapped, and subsequently frozen, into the ice at the beginning of the winter.

Personally, I find these early thaws to offer some of the uglier times to live in downtown Toronto. Months worth of discarded wrappers, the aforementioned output, and cigarette butts suddenly appear and I find it almost embarrassing. Especially the cigarette butts which I find distasteful and disturbing at the best of times. I rounded a corner the other day to be confronted with literally thousands of butts on the ground in front of a men’s hostel. That is what it feels like to me, a confrontation. Or, more accurately, an affront. A visual assault.  Blech.

What I remember, and what is missing from the urban experience of a quick thaw, is the smell of the earth thawing out.  A soft warm breeze that carried the oddly comforting smell of old leaves, now almost humus, and that unmistakeable scent of the earth waking up. It is probably too soon for that now anyway, in spite of my enthusiasm for this thaw.

What I have been enjoying is the enthusiasm of our feathered friends for this weather. Birdsong is everywhere, including in the parking lot on campus. Given that the parking lot is my least favourite location at my place of employment, it is particularly lovely to be welcomed by happy active birds, chasing each other from tree to tree.

They should probably get all the activity in that they can muster … we still have most of February and all of March to weather. So to speak.

42 Words For Tired 1 comment

The People of the North have at least 42 different words to describe snow, or so I’m told. In communications-speak, we’d describe that as a “low context culture” that uses language rather than contextual clues to transmit detailed and precise meaning. Something that, in this case anyway, the People of the North have in common with the Germanic cultures.

At this moment, I’m mulling over the possibility that I could come up with 42 different words for tired. The good news is that my exhaustion hits me in the evening after a very full day and it is almost entirely physical. My brain continues to zoom along but my body, some days, just can’t keep up. I’m prepared to express this exhaustion momentarily in a high context, non-linguistic manner as I fling myself across my bed and close my eyes.

… pooped … wiped … bagged …

This is one of those damp wintery evenings in Toronto that chills a person right down to the core, even though the actual temperature hovers around freezing. It really isn’t that cold. The precipitation vacillates between wet heavy snow and cold penetrating rain. The walk back to my car after post-hockey pub was short but by the time I got into my car I was not only tired, I was shivering. Every heating device in the vehicle – defroster, heater, seat warmer – was immediately turned up to high and remained so for the short trip home. Even now, as I sip hot water and lemon and have the fireplace, I am still thawing out.

… tuckered out … spent … fatigued …

On the short walk back to my car, I caught a whiff of a fireplace in use, that lovely rich wood-smoke smell that makes you want to curl up like a cat and sleep forever. My mind wandered back to the time I bought this condo, from plans, and the stroke of inspiration that led me to ask them to put my fireplace in. Of course, I don’t have the good-smelling kind – I have the warm but kinda fake kind. No matter – the visual of having an actual “fire” to look at does as much psychological warming as the actual heat the thing throws out.

… drowsy … drained … drooping …

I bought this place in May 2002, when a trailer stood on this vacant lot. It was a confluence of amazing events that culminated in that day. From that moment onward, I drove by the site several times a week, bugged the construction guys to let me see my unit, plying them with coffee, and generally obsessed about moving in.

… dog-tired … done in … fagged …

Here are some photos taken in July 2002 by my Danish visitor, Zara. Clearly, not much had happened, construction-wise, at this point. I’m grateful that these pics don’t show, in great detail, the Worst Haircut Of My Life. I actually wound up with hockey hair … an almost mullet. This happened three days before Zara arrived and I was mortified but unable to describe to the hair-dresser – who seemed very excited about this cut – what I actually wanted her to do.

Hey ... those prices aren't right!
Here is where I am going to live someday!

Lookit! Here is where I am going to live someday!

My BMI was a tad higher in July 2002, methinks. 🙂

The building was completed, only a few months over schedule, in July 2004. Well,  “completed” is a loose, non-legal term. It was ready for people to move in.  The first four months were hell – 57 things on the list of “incomplete” or “needs attention” elements that the builder had to fix, including the absence of sinks in either bathroom. My beloved couch arrived from almost three years in storage shot through with mildew. Emotionally, I was not handling being alone very well. My fantasy of living alone in my own space didn’t get off on the right foot at all.

… haggard … sleepy … worn out …

Something shifted somewhere around the fifth or sixth month. There was a settling in, a critical mass of things getting fixed or upgraded, routines getting established, things starting to feel like they were going my way for a bit. I’ve been very very happy here ever since. I have one of the only condos in Toronto that has a gigantic tree outside the window. In the summer, my neighbours call my place “The TreeHouse”. 🙂

… done rambling … signing off … anymore words for tired out there …?

Eggplant Sandwich 3 comments

Earlier today, I ventured out with my friend Veronica to the St. Lawrence Market.  I will say again the same phrase that I’ve said many many times: the St. Lawrence Market is my favourite place in Toronto.

Sure, the Brickworks Organic Market is charming, aloof, unregulated, rough-around-the-edges. Great burritos. Great vibe. Love it. Today is opening day for a new market near Wychwood Park, so must check that out. Kensington Market has its fervent and vocal supporters.

I’m a St. Lawrence Market kinda gal, though. It is in my blood. I’ve been going there for 15 years now and I know it like the back of my hand which is comforting. I know where to find the cheapest yet best olive oil in the city, the best granola in the city and which puveyors of cheese excel at specific cheeses. (Don’t get me started on cheeses, especially since I can’t eat many cheeses right now!)

Oddly, I never seem to enjoy it as much alone as when I can go with a friend, so I was pleased when Veronica said she’d be into making the trip.

The St. Lawrence Market has the Eggplant Sandwich to end all eggplant sandwiches. No, no … not the one in the basement slathered in tomato sauce and fried green peppers, served on foccacia. No. Blech.

The “death row” Eggplant Sandwich is available only here. At Future Bakery, upstairs, smack dab in the middle of the market. It is near and dear to my heart, this sandwich. My friend Amy and I have been eating this sandwich, and waxing rhapsodic over it, since we worked together on Front St. in 1993. 15 years I’ve been eating this sandwich and, remarkably, it hasn’t changed.

... yes, lots of olives please.

... yes, lots of olives please.

Getting the cut just right

Getting the cut just right

Voila!

Voila!

This sandwich is on a fresh Italian roll, buttered, slathered in Dijon mustard, delicately garnished with roasted red peppers, hot banana peppers, lettuce and tomatos. And olives. Lots and lots of olives. Hold the cucumbers. The eggplant itself is heated and has melted swiss cheese on it by the time it makes it into the sandwich.

I have been known to call ahead to Future Bakery to suggest (demand?) that they have eggplant on hand if I know ahead of time that I’m going to be there on a Saturday. Sometimes, you see, they run out. And this is bad. Very very bad.

So, in case I haven’t made myself clear, if I manage to wind up on death row someday and require a last meal, it is this sandwich, exactly as I have just described. Hold the cucumbers. Cucumbers would be bad. Very very bad.

Next weekend, November 28-29-30, my friend Amy, the original eggplant sandwich sharer, is coming into town and we are having our now annual “girls’ cottage weekend in the city”. We put the fireplace on, drink wine, eat good food and read books. We listen to music and gossip. We go to St. Lawrence Market. We attend the annual Women In Blues Revue. We eat some more. (uh oh) We pretend we are cut off from the rest of the world … but we might go shopping. It is a pre-Christmas distraction for both of us.

I see another eggplant sandwich in my near future (bakery). Yum .

Autumn in Toronto 1 comment

I’m only just getting around to off-loading some pics from my camera. These were from mid-October, when I had my dog, Freddie, for a fair chunk of time. These are of her favourite park – well, MY favourite park really. It is in Rosedale, a few blocks north of where I live.

Notice her stealth technique.

Notice her stealth technique.

Gotta admire a tree with flare.

Gotta admire a tree with flare.

This is like the big finish.

This is like the big finish.

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