Museum Station Fair

It is early Sunday evening on the May long-weekend, and the usually quiet Museum Station is teeming with people. The Bloor Subway trains have been rerouted here because of track repairs at nearby Bay Station. The southbound track is business as usual, but trains on the northbound track can go any of three directions. None of this is readily apparent as you walk down the stairs to track level.

To communicate what is happening, the TTC have abandoned their recent advances in

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Patio Patrons People-Watching

Rick Mercer and friend, each on their Blackberry, sit in a shady corner at the far end of the rooftop patio at The Pilot. They are all smiles. It is late Sunday afternoon on the summer’s first long-weekend, and the weather is beautiful. Music from the 1980s fills the air. The relaxed crowd, soaking up the sun, is not typical Yorkville.

A continuous high-back bench is built around the perimeter of more than half of the large patio. The bench seems like an invitation to sit and look inwards toward the other patrons. Leslie and I sit side by side, and survey the crowd. We are not the only ones. The patio is large enough that it doesn’t feel invasive to

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Crevice Claims Another Victim

The crevice in my kitchen claimed a victim today. Waiting for my scrambled eggs to cook, I picked up the plastic egg carton to return it to the fridge. For some reason, I had used all of the eggs in the middle of the carton, leaving only a few at either end. As I lifted it, the carton twisted, opened, and an egg fell out, tumbling directly into the space between my stove and counter.

This space is made necessary by the position of the gas pipe. This is not the first item to fall down the crevice. It is definitely the messiest. The egg slid halfway down towards the floor,

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Theatre Acoustics Make Big Box Sale

Leslie wants to show me the Chapters near her yoga, one of her between teaching hangouts. The old box office window at the front gives away the building’s history. Still, once inside I am surprised. The old theatre is beautifully restored; only now books occupy the stage and audience.

I returned to the Chapters today. My first visit was a quick walk through an unexpected space. Today I stayed a while. The building still has the acoustics of a theatre, even though

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Nature Disrupts My Design

About three years ago the large Elm tree in my backyard died. The tree was the redeeming feature of the backyard and unfortunately had to be cut down. The job took several days to complete. After the first day, I came home to a backyard full of giant logs, a depressing sight. I wandered amongst them, sitting down on one. This would make a great bench, I thought, and would let me hang on to part of what had defined the space for so long. The next day, I had the workers push three logs aside.

That was January. My summer project was to redesign the yard using the three logs as key elements. By fall everything was in place, a new patio, gardens and the logs.

I had one great summer with the logs. Fast forward to our early spring this year, beautiful warm weather and the insects that come with that. I had ants. Not the small ones that build

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Building Crowds Moving Car

I’ll admit it, I have a bias. I hate Smart Centres. They make my skin crawl. This however, is more about how they meet the street than big box shopping. At a glance the buildings appear to have an entrance from the sidewalk. The long row of stores are built close to the sidewalk, urban friendly if you can enter the store that way, but all we are presented with are fake windows and solid steel doors. Because it is a closed face that the stores present, it feels crowding, even as I drive past in a car.

When I returned on foot to photograph the faux facade, I was treated to a lonesome cherry

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Arabians in Arizona

In 2000, Toronto began a program called Doors Open. Every year since, on a weekend in May, countless buildings have opened their doors to the public for tours. Los Cedros, a horse facility in Scottsdale, Arizona, has taken this idea a step further. Their door is open to visitors everyday, letting you see not only the dramatically situated architecture, but also the day to day workings of the facility.

Visitors are welcome to wander through Los Cedros as long as they adhere to the straight forward rules posted at the entrance. My mom, my sister, her kids and I were the only visitors there that Tuesday morning. We saw the giant

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New View of the Usual

My fourth new hairdresser since Isabelle stopped. The shop is on the second floor, a spacious corner unit with huge windows. Instead of watching others get their hair cut as I usually do, I have a raised view onto Queen Street. I feel like I am hovering over the adjacent construction site. My view is no longer confined by the hole cut in the hoarding. Across the street, what was once a bar is now the second floor of Shopper’s. Are those bad greeting cards I see? Peeking is fun or should I say refreshing.

Hidden Entrance

Today I found the worst office building entrance ever. Only with a bit of patience that is. I was on Eglinton a few blocks east of Yonge in fairly urban territory. I can’t imagine how the architect sold this one. First clue there is a problem; I walked right past the building even though I had been watching closely for number 110. When I reached 120 Eglinton and turned around it still took me a minute to see the doorway while standing in front of the 110 Eglinton sign. A Blockbuster and an entrance to underground parking take up most of the sidewalk frontage. To enter the building I had to walk into the darkness between the two.

Skating on Thin Ice Strip

It took me longer than I expected to meet Martin at the rink in Dufferin Grove. As I crossed the park, I could see a lone figure that looked to be pacing. I wasn’t that late. Martin’s movements made sense as I reached the edge of the rink. He had called me earlier saying we were in luck the ice was good. That was before he stepped out onto it. Martin wasn’t pacing, but skating back and forth on the 3 foot wide strip of decent ice. I strapped on my skates and joined him for my one and only skating session of the winter.

Eventually we were joined by others. Martin, two groups of adults with small children, various teenage boys and me shared the ice strip. None of the teenage boys lasted long. The narrow strip required a leisurely pace to maneuver around each other. They got impatient quickly. For me, the ice strip was the ideal location for a catching up conversation with an old friend I hadn’t seen in a while.

Washroom Large Enough for Ballroom Dancing

I swear the women’s washroom outside of theatre number 6 at AMC Yonge & Dundas is large enough for ballroom dancing. Not only are there many stalls, but the space between them is incredible. There is room for a long line of patiently waiting women, with enough left over on either side to walk from the stalls to the sinks and mirror.

Where does the ballroom dancing fit in? The washroom was empty both before and after the film. So much space to fill. Maybe the Grease soundtrack playing provided the inspiration to dance.

Sound Distractions Challenge Language Learning

For me, sound distractions make learning a new language particularly challenging. Recently, I started my third session of French classes at Alliance Française which is located in a converted, big, old, red brick house. This session, my classroom is in the basement, directly below the lobby which means the sound of footsteps overhead. Not just occasional footsteps, but many footsteps, as my teacher is particularly punctual and begins before other students have entered the building.

One of the perks of Saturday morning class, is that French café culture is introduced to us with coffee and croissants. As a result, the kitchen is full of students talking and eating during break. Unfortunately, our classroom is beside the kitchen. For some reason there is a vent on the wall between the two rooms and when we return from our break before others, the hum of chattering voices wafts into the room. I miss most of what is taught during the interruptions from footsteps and chattering, making following the larger lesson difficult. C’est la vie.

TTC to Myself

I had a solitary ride on the subway between Dupont and Spadina stations Sunday morning. Being alone in the car completely changes the experience of riding the subway. It makes it very intimate. I began talking out loud to myself. At Spadina a young couple got on. The magic feeling began to dissipate and by St. George station it was gone as the doors opened and people streamed in.

Cat a Sign of Life

I have walked the stretch of Dundas Street east of University Avenue countless times over the years. Non-descript storefronts are all I remember. Today I sat in the Longo’s at Dundas and Elizabeth and saw an entirely new street, thanks to a cat.

I stared out the window eating my lunch, nothing remarkable to note. I must have looked down at my food and when I lifted my gaze there was a cat in one of the bay windows on the second floor of the strip of buildings. Like a cat anywhere, this grey, maybe black feline surveyed his territory. This is not strange, but somehow it let me understand that people (and their pets) live in those buildings, that there is life behind what often feel like blank walls.

Everyone Wants a Strapless Gown?

Leslie and I got to Richies’ warehouse sale by about 5:15pm just as it was starting to get busy. Karen is coming to town this weekend to shop for a wedding dress and we were there to scout out the possibilities. Leslie was right; walking through the ballroom felt like being in a movie. All it took to convert the non-descript suburban hotel into a place of wonder were a few hundred brides-to-be, each in a white strapless gown. Women of all shapes, sizes and ethnicities wandered the ballroom wearing their favourite dress while searching the racks for another more perfect dress.

The sense of being in a movie was clinched by the exasperated look on the face of the guy at

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Ugly Proves Functional

New Years celebrated in a cozy little house. Ugly linoleum covers the floors. As the night continues, linoleum becomes a better and better idea. Dancing and the resulting spilled drinks make the floor feel like that of a movie theatre. I suppose a comparison to a sticky club floor is more appropriate, just out of my usual.

Daylight Softens Harsh Medical World

I have had many medical tests in the last 2½ years, but this was the only one with a view. I was treated to a clear blue sky and random rooftops. The technician said she appreciates the window after many years working in a basement. Even if the weather is miserable, she has a connection to the outside world. As an experienced patient I second the notion.

Competing Visions of Space

Upstairs to look for a new winter coat. The store does not subscribe to the idea of merchandising. Racks of coats, sweaters and pants crowd each other. Men and women’s items appear to be mixed, but really it is hard to tell. Are my allergies aggravated by the down coats or by the dusty chaotic conditions? A large skylight makes the chaos bright and airy that is if you find a way through all the clothing racks and look up.

When I return back down the stairs, I notice that the crowded racks were hiding a glass

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Teenage Flashback

It’s freezing cold outside. Tonight is the Artscape Holiday party at Wychwood Barns and Aaron has joined me. The Christie Street doors are locked, so we are forced to walk around the building over very icy terrain. The party is in the LOOP Theatre space, and the room is full when we arrive.

Wooden bleachers are folded up along one side, twigging a memory of my high school gym. Groups of people stand chatting. A drunken couple is making out by the cheese table. Shortly after 10pm the lights come on. The room is still full, and feels uncomfortably bright. I half expect to see teachers with crossed arms shooing us out the door into the cold.

Community Created Centre?

Today, Leslie and I shared one of those wander through the city, high culture meets low culture, days. To end it, we tried to stop for a post movie, post King Tut, tea in the food court below the AMC theatres. It was 9:30 on a Friday night and most of the restaurants were already closed. A juice bar, whose name I can’t remember, was our only option. I went to find a seat while Leslie convinced the man behind the counter that he didn’t need a computer to check the price; it was written on the sign behind him.

We sat in the far corner, by the window overlooking Yonge Street. The place was surprisingly busy considering that almost

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Sensory Fitness

Stretch and Strength class is taught in the JCC’s main studio in the basement. Today, the usually chill class was interrupted. The manager swung open the door saying something about a problem with the pool and pipes, “The water is rising fast”. Slightly dazed, we hopped over the rapidly forming pool of water and climbed the slippery steps to the boxing studio. Upstairs there is no music. Instead the rhythmic sound of an individual skipping filled the air and a different kind of calm took over.

Too Many Chairs Compromise Peer Support

I spent today at the Royal Ontario Museum for Rethink’s 2nd annual Breast Fest. Live Laugh Lunch, was held in a quiet octagonal room on the fourth floor. My friend Josephine and I were among the first to arrive. We chose a seat and then headed to the buffet table.

Back at our table, we ate and chatted. The event was advertised as sold out, but by the time the performance started there were empty chairs at most of the six tables. We sat alone at a table. “Last one picked for the team,” said Josephine. It is unfortunate to feel isolated during an event that is about support.