Tuesday, December 04, 2007

My Neighbourhood.

I live in the west of Toronto, along Lansdowne Avenue. It’s a nice place. Or not bad, anyway.

I keep being told that Toronto is a city of communities. More and more I think I understand what “they” mean. I can tell people I live on Lansdowne or I can say I live in Little Portugal, and people seem to know where I mean.

My street was narrowed the summer before we arrived. From what I can tell, it was an urban planning decision, to try to discourage traffic from using it as a thoroughfare. Residents on the street were pissed, and still are, since they are still displaying their “Giambrone, Don’t Narrow Lansdowne” signs, in a pitiful too-little-too-late gesture of defiance. There’s a new sidewalk where a parking lane was replaced, and there’s a bike lane along side, but it’s really just a stencil bike in the regular street with no extra lane. Giambrone is the TTC commissioner, and by the looks of things, he won’t be garnering many votes from my neighbours.

My house is off the street. Think 12 Grimmauld Place, but without a clandestine cabal. If you walk along Lansdowne, you’d think our house isn’t there, but you have to walk down a lane between two other houses to find ours, kinda in the backyard of the rows of houses. I like this. We’re hidden from the street, which may cut down on JWs, drunks stumbling onto our porch, or random shankings.

About a two minute walk from us is the streetcar line along College. I like taking the streetcar, mostly because it’s above ground. The subway stop is about a 10 minute walk north of me, and it’s ok for getting to work a little bit faster, but on days when I have a few extra minutes, I take the streetcar.

Up on Bloor, Wally is retiring. Wally owns the mom-and-pop hardware store that’s been in that location for 61 years. In November, a sign went up in the window saying, “50% off Everything! Wally’s Retiring!” A month ago, I went in and bought about $240 worth of stuff, and only had to give Wally $120. Sweet! I went back in on Friday to get some finishing nails and Wally said, “You left your notebook here last time. I saved it on a shelf for you.” I had a little notepad which had a list of things I had hoped to buy, and in the frenzy, I forgot it. I can’t believe they kept it for me. I guess they don’t get too many 6-foot blondes excited about half-price plumb bobs, linseed oil, and nail sets.

Across from Wally’s is a Capoeira studio! I don’t know if I’ll sign up for lessons again (I’m not as young as I used to be), but I think I might try to buy a berimbau and learn how to play.

Next to Wally’s is the “Queen of Patties,” a Caribbean food place that boasts jerk chicken and oxtail gravy. Most nights I get home hungry and I have to stop myself from going in and bringing home Styrofoam. Some day I have to go up with a reusable container to bring my food home in. I love jerk chicken, and I think some oxtail gravy would be a worthy way to break my red meat fast.

There is some curious graffiti on the lamp poles along Lansdowne. Someone has scribbled hearts on one, and another simply states, “I heart TO.” Yet another has a smiley face in a hand flashing the peace symbol. It reminds me of the graffiti in Hamilton that read, “Pushin’ Niceness.” (see bottom of this page.)

For weeks, I had considered buying a gorgeous antique chest of drawers that I saw up in a shop on Queen Street West, but it was $900. One night I was walking home from the subway and saw a chest of drawers abandoned in an alley. I rang the closest doorbell and Caesar told me to take it – “It’s yours, and if anyone has a problem with that, tell them to come talk to Caesar.” Old men love me. Anyhow, after about an hour with some finishing nails, the chest of drawers fits my room perfectly. (B helped me clean my room Saturday night, and now it’s immaculate – I love it.)

About a 20 minute walk from us is Mitzi’s, a café that has the most amazing food. They don’t have a set menu, but make up a different one every day on a chalkboard according to what ingredients are available. It gives its guests about 8 options every day. It seats about two dozen, and there is often a line outside. It’s one of those cute little holes-in-the-wall that I love.

It’s not bad here. I even have moments of affection for our little nook of Toronto. Is that the best thing I can say about this place? Maybe. I’ll be home in 18 days, and all of this will be forgotten. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. I don’t want to settle down here. Some people move to Upper Canada “to get their feet on the ground,” and they end up being on the PTA here. I hope that doesn’t happen to me.


Laura said...

Catherine, this is a great post.
This "communities" theme has definitely been part of my move to Upper Canada and familiarizing myself with Toronto. Leah McLaren had a piece in the G&M on community changes a few weeks ago, I think you might have some comments on it.

I want to come and visit soon, and take reusable containers to get Caribbean food. But I'll see you at home first, and we can do curry instead.

Lisa said...

Yay Cafern!! Radio silence has been broken!