Tag Archives: west queen west

Songs on Repeat: The Wanderer

There are few things in life (aside from my children and husband) that make me happier than making mixed cds, wandering the streets of Toronto or cooking brunch for friends.  I seem to easily forget that this holy trinity is the simplest way to get me out of any sort of funk, and remind me that there is so much in life to love–no matter how much this child screams in my face.

I was reminded of these things a few weekends ago when I managed to pull off said trifecta.  I went for long stroll, heading west along Queen, from Bathurst to Beaconsfield, while wearing, and sometimes nursing my baby.  Martin and MG were at the soccer game so I had the afternoon alone with Alice.  It had been quite a long week, with a lot of face screaming and pacing and gripe water.  Baby Alice is quite different from Marigold, who slept constantly and barely cried.  However, Alice sleeps at night, and is usually only fussy in the evenings so I will try my best not to complain.  Anyways, a long walk was much needed therapy for my tired soul.

Tiny TFC Fan

Marigold ready to support the TFC

Man with an Orange Balloon in Trinity Bellwoods

Man with an Orange Balloon in Trinity Bellwoods

Toronto Graffiti

Some graffiti I spotted while wandering

The next day, my old pal AQP came over for a delicious brunch (sadly, no pictures!) and I was reminded of the magic that is a home cooked Sunday brunch.  I used to pull off amazing brunch feats back in the day, almost every weekend, when I wasn’t too hungover or craving a traditional from Sneak’s.  Still high from the brunch success, later that night  I busted out the old laptop that hosts all of my music.  I haven’t yet transferred my iTunes library to my new machine, so I sadly spend most of my time listening to internet radio these days. Every time I get out that old machine, open up iTunes and hit play, it’s like I’ve taken drugs.  Really awesome drugs.

I was reminded while out on my Saturday stroll, that a friend’s birthday was just around the corner. This chum really appreciates my handmade efforts–I usually go above and beyond to ensure her gifts, for whatever occasion, are out of this world.  I also know that she really appreciates a good mixed cd and making a mix makes me insanely happy!  It’s the only opportunity I have to play DJ in this life-piling the songs into the playlist, to curate and organize once I’ve made my way through the entire library.  Sometimes the cd’s have a theme or constraint, making it tricky to deliver, but this time, all I needed were songs I liked.

For this project, it was tough to narrow it down to 80 minutes of music, but I managed to cram some ska, reggae, soul, grunge and 50’s/60’s oldies into the mix.  I think there’s even some 90’s alternative on there.  I typically arrange the cd like sets and I listen to the beginnings and endings of songs over and over to make sure it all jives.  And then, once I’m satisfied, I give it a full listen from beginning to end, to make sure it’s perfect.

The songs on that cd entitled “Songs I like, Cuz I Like You” include some of my all time favourites that still hold up today.  The recipient, I’m sure, won’t love it all, but I know for certain that she will love hearing the opening beats of the Wanderer, by Dion.  Everyone loves hearing it.  If you know someone who doesn’t love it, I would like to hear about it–because I find that hard to believe.

I am sure that I first heard Dion when sleeping over at my friends house as a kid.  We’ve been friends since the day I was born and we’re still friends today!  She lived with her mom and older sister, and her step dad.   I remember the sisters rolling their eyes to me when I would sleep over about how their step dad would probably come home later that night, a few sheets to the wind, and start playing his records really loud.  He had been known to do that, and while I’m sure it annoyed the fuck out of them, whenever I slept over I secretly hoped he would come home, wasted, and blast his records.  It was the mid 80’s but he was listening to that classic pop music from the 50’s and early 60’s and I thought it was awesome.  My parents were really into 8 tracks and country, and I was more into records and rock and roll.  I’m pretty sure we were awakened by him playing Dion on many occasions, though typically he was more fond of “I Wonder Why” and “Runaround Sue”.

Several years ago, I was going through a 50’s/60’s music phase right along side my burgeoning interest in Jackie Kennedy.  I listened to a lot of 1050 CHUM in those days, and my iTunes library started to fill up with the Chiffons, Ricky Nelson and Sam Cooke.  And of course Dion.  And the song the Wanderer became one of many theme songs in my life.

The Jackie K Phase

The Jackie K Phase

The song itself is about a transient guy with lots of lady friends and he travels all around never looking to settle down.  While my life at the time wasn’t quite that exciting–there was a lot of dudes around, I liked to party a lot and I did roam the streets ALL THE  TIME.  I would wake up (late) on the weekends, pack my bag with some smokes, some cash, maybe my flask, do a little paper work and head out the door for the day, sometimes not returning until late in the evening.  I wouldn’t have a destination planned, or a rendezvous arranged, I would just wander for hours.  And sometimes I would meet up with my sweet chum in the park to watch the dogs, who was also spending her Saturday, just walking around.

I had my own lyrics–replacing the girls names in the song with the dudes that we all knew.  I’d sing it in the streets, I’d dance to it at bars, and sweet djs would dedicate the song to me because they knew of my love for the song.  And it is the only way I can tolerate the saxophone.  I hate the saxophone, but the sax solo at about 1:45 gives me goosebumps every time.

These days, my solo walks along Queen are few and far between, and I’ve traded my cigarettes and flask for a baby sling, but I’m still wandering.  And I still listen to the Wanderer by Dion.  Over and over again.

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Anniversary Traditions

I just looked it up.  It was actually March 5th.  Turns out that’s actually my pal’s Parks’ birthday…funny coincidence.  I didn’t even know there was a Park’s when I moved to Toronto.

In 2006, I made a pretty significant life decision.  I quit my job, packed up my shit and moved here.  I had exactly 4 friends on the north shore of Lake Ontario.  And now, this is my life.  Lake Ontario at the bottom  of my street, and Queen Street is just steps to the north.  I listen to Parkdale sounds as I fall asleep at night, and I wake to Parkdale sounds in the morning.  Deep in the throbbing heart of Parkdale, I am at home in my Parkdale House Of Dreams.  Until 2006, I didn’t even know what a Parkdale was.

West Queen West upon entering Parkdale  “You’ve Changed”

Coming to the decision to move away from my friends, my family, my love, was actually easier than I thought it was at the time.  I had been to visit my dear Kindred on several occasions, and cried whenever I left.  So I moved, and my life changed. Of course I miss my friends, and it was challenging to make new ones, so that part wasn’t easy. But the rest really was pretty simple.  It didn’t matter that I was surrounded by tons of really rad people who I really really really  love a whole lot, I always felt lonely in the Cath.  I knew that if I stayed in Niagara I would live a sad lonely life.  I needed things to change.  I needed to be alone to end the loneliness.

I had some ideas about what I was walking into by leaving, but I can assure you that those ideas are so vastly different than what I found once I arrived. There was this thing that was happening when I moved here, and I’ve realized that time was standing still for me then.  It was standing still for all of us. I really wish that I could actually paint more than just paint by numbers, because I would paint it all as a giant mural.  And it’s a big fucking party mural.  A really fun party.  The one night only affair that lasted for years, that still finds itself revived in a pub or on a deck, or in a kitchen–over a hot stove here and there.

The Cloak
The cove children

I don’t actually believe that things happen for a reason, and I don’t really believe in fate or pre-destination.  It doesn’t actually matter, fate or no fate,  when you’re too busy living.  Sometimes the universe owes you a favour–you simply accept its kind offer of amazing and be thankful.  So, thank you, universe, for this, and all the other things that have followed.
There hasn’t been much else in my life more right than that move I made in ’06.  A few things, but not many. Anyways, I’m big on anniversaries, and starting annual traditions and reflecting on special times in my life.  It’s all very special and amazing.  I do love it when there are things to celebrate.  Birthdays, New Years Day, Thanksgiving, Mondays.  Celebrations truly are some of the best times of our lives, wouldn’t you say?

There I was yesterday.  Here I am now and where I’ll be tomorrow–ever so much to celebrate!  I know March 5th, 2013 has come and gone, but each year I try, at the very least, to remember the time with celebratory thoughts.  I try to remember how I felt then, and how it feels more right every day.  

From Rancho Relaxo, to the Starbank, The Market, Neutral, Maggie’s, the Cloak and Dagger, the backdoor of 106, Croft, Sneaky Dees, The Magpie, The Press Club, Euclid, Roxton,  to the corner of Grace and Harbord.  

The Dakota, Lakeview, The Gypsy, The Park, 909 and my dress, the dog bowl, Squirrelys, The Paper Place, Preloved, Queen and Dovercourt, The Cock and Tail, The Gladstone.  The Dufferin jog, the now bricked up stairway under the GO overpass. Streetcars, Lamport, the amphitheatre, the Caddy, Salvador, the Rhino, Meher’s deck, Capital, Not my dog, The Village of Parkdale mural, Thrift Town.  Mezzrows and Tibetan protests.  The CN Tower. Going Steady.  The Golden Dogs, White Cowbell Oklahoma, and the Wednesday night residency at the Cameron. Bikes. The people.  The people on bikes. The transit.  The vibe.  The sounds.  The weather.  The fresh flowers on the street corners.  I look around me at the city and I am in love.  In love with the people and the places.  I have never in my life felt more at home.

On the sunny Sunday afternoon that Cindy and Juliee drove me into town, this song by Bjork came on.  Just as it was supposed to–this song played and I laid eyes on the city that had become my new home just at the moment where Bjork says “this is where I’m staying.  this is my home.”  In March 2006 I came home for the first time. Happy anniversary, Toronto.

Roommates Ruling Supreme

Every spring I used to plan a party with Gord to celebrate another year of us ruling supreme as roommates.   This spring, I’m planning a different kindof party.  A party that I’ll surely celebrate for the rest of my life.  I look forward to the traditions that will follow.

I’m attracted to you

Domino Magnets.  I made them.

I love magnets.  And paper. And crafts.  I believe there is real value in making things–it makes me feel good.  I seem to wage this non stop inner war that I have with the television–I’m attracted to it, as I think all humans are, but I really don’t think it adds much value to my life.  Instead of spending all of my waking life in front of a screen, computer, television, or otherwise, I want to make things.  Contribute something to this world…even if it is only magnets or some other random paper craft.

I typically get my paper from The Paper Place on Queen Street West in Toronto.  It is one of my favourite places on this earth.  They have such amazing papers, crafty accessories, stationary, and super cool gifts, and basically whenever I have time to myself and a few bucks to spend, I’m heading to the Paper Place.  Here’s just a brief glimpse of what’s inside!

Image taken from http://www.thepaperplace.ca

I love this store!  I can’t wait to bring Marigold in here, once she’s past the tornado/hurricane phase of her life.  She’d destroy this poor store if I let her loose now, so, I’ll probably wait till she’s at least 4.  Maybe 5.  If you’re in Toronto, and shopping on Queen, you have to head here.  It’s just across from the park (Trinity Bellwoods) and it neighbours another one of my favourite stores, Prevloved.  Speaking of Preloved, one day I’m going to learn to sew, and sew well.  And then I’m going to make myself a bunch of stuff like they have at Preloved.  It’s all so beautiful (and pricey), but there’s a serious lack of plus-sized items for sale, making it nearly impossible for me to buy anything other than scarfs or legwarmers or mittens.  That’s right, I just admitted to the entire internet that I am plus sized.

So here’s what I did Saturday night.  I got together my scrap paper file folder which looks a little something like…ok, exactly like this:

I really should get a better filing system

And some other supplies I had laying around:

Supplies needed:  Magnets, Dominoes, Scissors, Mod Podge, Paper Scraps, and Glue.  Also a paint brush, not pictured.
You can use anything you have laying around for the base of the magnet–I used dominoes because I thought it would be cool.  I basically found them in the garbage on the side of the road like 3 years ago.  I picked them up because I thought we might play sometime, but they’ve been sitting in the closet ever since.  The “dragon” dominoes are a bit of a pain in the ass because of, well, the dragon on one side.  The paper doesn’t lay 100% flat on the magnet, and while it doesn’t really matter to me, if you are a perfectionist it might drive you bananas.  It doesn’t look bad, it just looks imperfect and textured, which is kindof the look I’m going for.  Regardless, the whole situation can be remedied by using plain and smooth dominoes in the place of the dragon ones.

Any sort of decorative paper you want to use should work, provided it’s heavy enough stock and not see through.  I tried with tissue paper, and it looked mostly gross, but when I layered it on top of other card stock, it turned out fine.

And how did I do it, you ask?
  • Trace the domino onto the “wrong” side of the paper, and cut it out.  Trim it to make sure the edges don’t overlap
  • Paste the paper to the “dragon” side of the domino.  Make sure it’s straight.  Most types of glue will suffice.  Let it dry for about 5 minutes.
  • Affix the magnet to the “numeral side” of the domino.  I used strip magnet that comes in a roll, simply because I had it kicking around.  I actually don’t prefer it because it’s not that strong.  Also, I use crazy glue to adhere the magnet to the domino.  Magnets ALWAYS come away from whatever decoration they are attached to, so I’m partial to giving it half a chance by using the strongest glue ever.  I’ve tried hot glue before, but I find that the strength of the magnet is too powerful for shitty hot glue, so crazy glue or glue of the super variety are the best bet.  God, how many times can one person say glue.  Glue glue glue.
  • Coat the face of the magnet (the decorated side) with Mod Podge.  I did two coats, but depending on the result you want, you can do as many as you like.  I also imagine you could coat the whole frigging domino in the podge if you wanted, but I just didn’t for the sake of time.
This is not something I thought of on the spur of the moment–I’ve made several attempts at making awesome magnets at various points in my life.  I think this is the best magnet idea so far.  You might, however, be more partial to the design of the magnets I made as part of Smash’s holiday presents.  I sure am:
Shitty quality photo, but it looks good on my phone!

The Archie magnets are pretty much the best craft I have EVER done.  You can see a better photo on her blog here.  The round magnets are just paper cut in circles and glued to the back of decorative marbles.  This magnet “technique” typically tends to work best with faces or single small images. The strip magnet does NOT work for this…I use a small, higher powered round magnet for those.  

And that’s how I spent my Saturday night.

Duel in the Dale

Somehow, I managed to get evicted. Again. I have never been behind in rent, never damaged an apartment, and never, well mostly never, have I ever been loud to the point of disrupting the neighbours. And that one time the neighbours were really pissed doesn’t actually count since they were a bunch dicks anyways.

At the end of the day, none of the good tenant qualities matter in a situation where your domicile is the preferred unit of residence by the owner of the property, or one of their immediate family members. You may recall, the same thing happened when I lived with Gord on Spencer, but the landlord, who turned out to be this incredible artist, wasn’t such a jerk about it. He gave us a discount on our rent, and he was, in fact moving in to our place. He fixed it up real nice and is still happily living at 104.

This last experience we were not as fortunate, but it just wasn’t a good fit for us all around in the first place. The apartment was too small, it had bad energy, zero privacy, and I really wasn’t all that crazy about the neighbourhood. We had moved there to save money, as the place was a real steal, but it just really wasn’t going to work out for us in the long term.  And thus, getting kicked out was a blessing in disguise.  A huge blessing.

I’m back in Parkdale  We’re all in Parkdale.  Living in my Parkdale House of Dreams.  And while, frankly my life isn’t even remotely as romantic as that sounds, it really doesn’t matter because I am home.  I knew one day I’d find my way back here.  And it is a beautiful apartment.  I could live here for the rest of my life.

I haven’t been writing mostly because I don’t have time, but I really don’t even feel inspired to write anything. And such is the course of my life, there are big gaps in my diaries for years that I went without writing, and then something would just eat at me until I had to write about it.

I used to write about boys.  I used to write about how disappointed I was in my appearance, and how I wanted to be cooler.  I used to write about what I was watching on television and what my friends were doing.  I used to write about my relationships, and their challenges.  The regretful choices and decisions I had made.

I later turned to writing in celebration of the choices I had made, the relationships I maintained, and the joy that permiated through every waking and semi waking, moment of my life. Those times were a very happy time for everyone, to be sure.

A few weeks ago, someone said to me “you really have a hard time accepting where you’re at in life”.  It may have been more of a question than a statement, I guess, but not exactly the comforting words you were expecting to hear from your friend and confidant, who obviously didn’t quite grasp the weight those words could carry.

There’s always this constant struggle where my lazy, complacent side manages somehow to win the war of sitting on the couch versus doing something to make things better.  The just-get-by-at-work-because-I-don’t-have-the-energy attitude is fighting a battle against my once overwhelming desire to be the employee of the minute every gd minute of the gd day.

Yes, I am sad from time to time because I’ve gained 70+ pounds that cannot be construed as “baby weight” (the poundage came along long before Marigold did).  I am sad because it’s hard to kick ass at my new-ish job, because I am not a subject matter expert, and of course the job is still new-ish.  I am frustrated about relationships that used to be easy and fluid, which now, are basically non existent or strained because circumstances have changed and/or the common ground has dissipated.

Trust me, I’m not about to wake up tomorrow, start a fucking smoothie diet, quit smoking and have that first day of the rest of my life moment or anything, but I still want to keep trying to choose the better, the good, the more. I want to feel the sadness and the pain too, of the things that I struggle with and know that even though I may not have the time to accomplish the good the better the more, that it’s ok to miss it.

The distractions, and I use that term most affectionately, are temporary, but the rewards are invaluable.  The external demands on my life have a profound impact on who I am and how I spend my time.  And it will change me and strengthen me in ways I can’t even imagine.  So, those words were heavy.  Heavy enough to stop me in my tracks.  Heavy enough to keep me replaying the conversation in my head over and over. But, only in such a way that brings me to the conclusion that, no, it’s not that I have a hard time accepting where I’m at in life, I just want more.

I greatly admire those women who have incredibly successful careers running interesting businesses, doing what they’re passionate about, having all their shit together, children on top of it all, and seemingly still time to spare.  And I hope that one day, driven by my desire to live an extraordinary life, I’ll be able to accomplish a fraction of what I want to do in my heart of hearts and modestly fulfill the better portion of my purpose here on earth.

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