Archive for the ‘Adventures’ Category

Hi! Did you miss me for the last…really long time? I’m not going to go through all of what I’ve been up to for the last year and a half other than a) I had another baby! Her name is Alice and she’s almost 8 months and b) I had to spend the last three weeks of my pregnancy and the first two weeks after the birth on bed rest and while you’d think that would get me blogging again, it did not.

Anyway. I am still not 100% back to my normal level of mobility and my studio is a bit slow right now, BUT I have a metropass and a curious almost-four-year-old who loves public transit and , incidentally, a really sweet-natured and easygoing baby. So I thought I’d start doing something I used to do on my own, only with my kids.

Back in 2006 I quit my sort-of day job of ballet accompanying and started my studio. While I was trying to build up by client base, I got into the habit of going on an “adventure” every Wednesday. I had a weekly budget of $20, including TTC fare, and would basically just go somewhere I hadn’t been and do something, usually involving a café.

You may have noticed by now, but I am not by nature a particularly adventurous person. I often feel awkward in new situations and don’t have a desire to plunge into other people’s spaces and take part. However, I do enjoy just going places and looking around, maybe having a coffee or lunch or something.

The past few years of small child-having have kept me either at home or only going out to familiar places/on planned excursions. And of course the city keeps changing – my own neighbourhood certainly has. So, since I have a bit of not-exactly-spare-since-I’m-looking-after-at-least-one-kid-but-not-exactly-scheduled-either time and, as I said, a metropass, I’ve decided to start having adventures again.

Normally I plan on going on Tuesdays, because weekend transit is a shitshow, but today I had to do a distant errand and Cecil wanted to come with me, so we can call this one an adventure.

Victoria Park/Lawrence

This was our route:

viclaw map

Due to the general incompetence of the TTC the entire Coxwell station bus bay is closed down while they do…something which will apparently take a year? Anyway, more detail than you probably want, but the Coxwell bus route is combined with another bus that goes north into Scarborough, which is unexpectedly convenient. To get to Victoria Park and Lawrence from our house was only two buses.

We had to go there to go to a dingy Babies R Us so I could buy a new breast pump because I very stupidly left the old one on the bus and couldn’t wait to get it back from the TTC lost-and-found/order one online. Downtown Toronto being surprisingly poorly served for things like inexpensive breast pumps, at least of the brand which I prefer, I found a Babies R Us at Victoria Park and Lawrence which carried them and figured out how to get there.

I asked Cecil, who enjoys riding the bus, if he wanted to come, and sure enough he did.

Some points about weekend TTC in general:

  • It stinks, both literally and figuratively.
  • Sometimes it is empty, sometimes it is super-crowded.
  • No one in power appears to think that it matters.

These points all stand doubly for the more outlying areas which are already poorly served…like the intersection of Scarborough and North York or wherever the hell Victoria Park and Lawrence is. Getting there looked easy on paper: take one bus, then change to another bus arriving a minute or two later and go about 8 more stops north. Except, of course, on the way there the bus we were supposed to change to blew right past the stop and we had to wait something like 20 minutes for the next one, which was super crowded with people who didn’t think a woman travelling alone with a three-year-old deserved a seat.

Scarborough/North York is mostly small detached houses, somewhat larger semi-detached houses, the kind of apartment buildings that seemed like a good idea 40 years ago, and strip malls. It looks like everywhere in Ontario, which makes it kind of look like nowhere. I cannot call the bus ride up Coxwell, along O’Connor, and up Victoria Park particularly exciting BUT I spied a ginormous Value Village, which I intend to go back to another time, and got some knitting done to boot.

Even though housing prices have probably doubled over the last 10 years, like they have everywhere else, there are not many indicators of gentrification along O’Connor. There is the occasional newly-built McMansion – well, at least newly-built house that’s 25% bigger than any of its neighbours and doesn’t look like it came out of a mold 50 years ago – a bowling alley that’s being converted to condos, and the odd store with a black sign with tiny white writing on it, but that’s about it. The rest of the shops are the kinds of places that flourish in a low-rent environment – “Doll Hair Emporium!” “Cat antiques!”  “Make your own kilt!”– or cater to Scarborough’s many ethnic communities, or are so junky I would never consider shopping there, and I have few inhibitions in that regard. Stores too gross for me to shop in surrounded by houses I can’t afford, that is Toronto in a nutshell.

Anyway.  We got there eventually. You’re going to have to take my word for it, but the view from the intersection of Victoria Park and Lawrence – literally from the middle of the intersection, looking west as you cross the street – is gorgeous. The elevation is relatively high, so you can see all the way to downtown. Today was warm for January, a few degrees above zero; in the distance the city buildings were all shrouded in mist. Cecil was thrilled to see a distant crane, because he’s three and construction is pure excitement. If there were an island halfway across the street I’d expect to see watercolourists camped out on it on foggy days. As it is I couldn’t exactly stop and take a picture and it doesn’t seem like anyone else ever has. Toronto Public Works, call me and we’ll discuss closing the intersection so I can get a snap, OK?

The Babies R Us was in a – you guessed it – strip mall. I would hesitate to call it a high-class strip mall, but it’s a cut above the usual strip of 2-3 restaurants/dollar store/vet or dentist office/something improbable like a bathroom fixture showroom/ “holistic spa” combination. I’m guessing that’s because it’s not technically in Scarborough but in North York, which is generally less deprived. There was a No Frills – with a hotdog stand out front! – a Baskin Robbins, a few small businesses, and (of course) a Toys/Babies R Us.

They were having some kind of sale, so the store was full of people who apparently had never handled money before and were convinced the store was trying to cheat them out of their discount high chair, but we got what we needed without incident, then failed to get a snack at the hotdog stand. They were out of veggie dogs, causing the main drama of the afternoon. I dragged a weeping toddler back to the bus stop and we began the long trip home.

This is not a particularly exciting adventure – oh, I forgot, we had another 20-minute wait in the middle and went to Tim Hortons for snacks – but you know what, we enjoyed it.

If you plan to go because you also lost your breast pump/want a veggie dog but have to justify it with extreme effort, or just want to see the view:

  • Bring snacks
  • Don’t expect too much from the TTC, and if you’re 3:
  • Plan your bathroom breaks.

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Hi! Did you miss me? I haven’t written since February because I had a baby (more on that later) and have been rather busy since then.

I wrote a whole post shortly after giving birth on what the experience was like but haven’t decided yet if I’m going to put it up, since I don’t know if I want the gory details alive on the net for ever and ever amen, but in a nutshell:

– It really hurts.

– Especially if you do it at home without pain relief like I did.

– I mean really, REALLY hurts. No joking. Seriously the most painful thing ever by the end of it.

– But it was totally OK.

– In fact, better than OK, it was totally awesome.

– I was also lucky in that onset of active labour –> birth was around 9 hours, not 18-24 like it is for some people. I had about 18 hours of inactive labour, though, which is more annoying than anything else. That made the whole “no pain relief” thing a lot easier to deal with than it might have been.

– And babby was 7 lbs 13 oz, not the behemoth I’d feared.

– And it was a boy! We named him Cecil.

– He looks like a tiny clone of Ben, only with beautiful slate-blue eyes.

– He too is totally awesome.

– In spite of the crying and the poo.

– Poo is a much bigger part of my life now than ever before.

– But I don’t mind.

– In fact if I had to break down early motherhood into a pie chart, it would be 50% breastfeeding, 25% poo, 10% cuteness, 10% laundry, and 5% screaming.

– In fact I think I’ll do just that:


– I have taken about a million pictures of this infant since he was born, as you will know if you follow me on Twitter. I will not post all of them now because I’ve just gotten a new computer (hooray!) and haven’t uploaded my pictures yet. I’ll stick to just one:

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I don’t have a lot of energy to write today, since I’ve taken on not only the proportions but apparently the personality of a manatee, but I just had to say – you know those people who get really angry on the internet and post very long frequently all-caps rants on blog posts?

I saw someone do that last night. In REAL LIFE.

It was at another Association for Science and Reason event (the home of the famous Mennonite Conspiracy Theorist. Though he wasn’t there) featuring Franke James, an artist who got royally screwed by Stephen Harper et al for a) being a climate change activist and b) talking shit about the tar sands. Franke gave what I can call a charming and, considering the subject matter, very positive talk, which I really enjoyed and was challenged by. The rest of the audience seemed to like it too.

The Q&A, however, was rapidly taken over by a scrawny guy called Wayne who started ranting about Hugo Chavez and how crappy solar panels are.

And didn’t stop.

I mean, if the person you’re hypothetically talking to you has to ask you three times “Do you have a question?” and then you continue to talk over her as she attempts to respond to you, dude. I know you’re angry, but step back.

And if you interrupt someone ELSE’S question by accusing the speaker of not caring about starving people (because we can ALL EAT OIL, GUYS), and THEN don’t stop talking until the organizers pre-emptively end the event, you really, really need to step back.

Anyway. I found it – well, I found it awkward and annoying at the time, but in retrospect very interesting. It was so, so clearly a transposition of internet behaviour into real life. Not that people didn’t yell at each other before we had Manboobz, but the repetition of talking points (Hugo Chavez! What is it with conservatives and Hugo Chavez?), the generally aggressive tone, the hyperbole, and the refusal to listen to THE PERSON ANSWERING YOU was so internetty. It’s like – do your dreams have camera angles? Mine do, probably due to the fact that I’ve been watching TV since I was born or so. An art form has literally changed the way we dream.

Now technology has literally changed the way we’re rude to each other.

What a time to be alive.

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So the trucker who hit Jenna Morrison didn’t see her, and will face no charges.

I’m not a cop and I don’t have all the details, but fuck. Was this man visually-impaired? Was a bright light suddenly flashed in his eyes? Was he possessed by the Black Oil Alien from the X-Files and it was swimming in his eyes at the moment of impact?

I very much doubt it. In fact, I think I can tell you why he didn’t see her: he wasn’t looking.

But Kristin, I hear you say, your privileged hipster ass can’t even drive a car!* How would you know what drivers experience?

Well, I don’t exactly. But I can make an educated guess, based on…

The Time I Got Hit By A Car

This is a funny story, actually.

Let me set the scene: It was March 2004. I had just graduated from music school and was looking for some kind of job other than working part-time at Starbucks or playing the piano at ballet schools. One of the jobs I heard about was a half-time job with the Ontario Arts Council. It seemed perfect for me (though whether I would have been perfect for it was highly unlikely – at any rate *SPOILER ALERT* I didn’t get the job), so I put together the bullshittiest resume you can imagine and went to drop it off.

March is an iffy time of year in Ontario. Sometimes it is mild and spring-like. Sometimes it is dreary and rainy. More often it is basically still winter. 2004 was one of those long winters, so I was wearing my lighter overcoat and hat, both of which were fuschia.

I wish I had a picture of myself in that outfit, because it was AWESOME. I was a tiny pink dynamo with a fake fur collar.

Anyway, I was wearing this bright pink coat and bright pink hat as I walked to the OAC office to drop off my doomed application. It was in the Bay/Bloor area (still is as far as I know), a part of the city not known for its colourful streetscape. In fact, I’d say every single building between Queens Park Circle and Yonge is one shade of grey or another (except for the Prada store, which is beige).

So picture the scene: Grey buildings. Grey road. Grey sidewalks. Dirty snow drifts on the sidewalks.

Me in my bright pink hat and coat walking along the street.

So as I was crossing a side street (I can’t remember which one), a woman in an SUV was attempting to make a right turn onto Bloor. She was studying traffic very intently, probably looking for a gap. I was already halfway across the road.

“Surely she’ll stop,” I thought. “I have the right of way after all.”

But no. She continued to inch forward into the turn, still looking at oncoming traffic…

…until she made contact with my right hip.

I yelled and banged on the hood of the car. She reacted, fortunately, with shock and apology. I shook my head and moved on.

But think about it: It was broad daylight. I was wearing bright colours – in fact, I couldn’t have been more in contrast with my environment. I was obeying the rules of the road and watching where I was going.

And this driver still didn’t see me. Because she wasn’t looking.

Because she didn’t have to.

And it turned out fine, because it was very low-speed and the driver didn’t accidentally hit the accelerator or decide to run me down in a fit of pique. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a problem.

The solution is not to be more visible, because even if you’re visible they won’t see you. The only thing I could have done to be more visible would be to wear bear bells, which are hardly standard issue for urban pedestrians.

The solution is for drivers to watch where the fuck they’re going. And no, it is not too much to ask.

*I did learn how to drive a car, BTW. I just never passed the test. I’m planning on finally getting my licence next year so I can take trips out of the city by myself.

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So the bed is in the middle of the living room, I can’t find my Hello Kitty bathrobe, and Madeline spent a good part of the day hiding by the washing machine.

That’s right – time for more home renovation!

We – and by we, I mean Ben and his dad, as I am apparently NOT ALLOWED to do anything more strenuous than push the cart at Home Depot – are putting in the new kitchen. Then taking out the old one and turning it into a bedroom. And incidentally repairing a rather badly water-damaged wall (miraculously there is no mold, though we’re treating it just to make sure) and a squirrel hole and various other surprises that old houses like to give you.

Anyway. Blogging may be more sporadic than usual and entirely conducted on the tablet, as the computer is blocked by a Les Mis-style barricade of stuff.

I will post pictures once there’s something more than debris to photograph and I figure out how to do so from the WordPress for Android app.

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So even though I missed a few days, my self-imposed challenge to blog every day for two weeks has been a success – between Sept. 16 and Sept. 30 I posted 14 times.

Best day for traffic was Sept. 21, when I published The View From the Council Chamber. New readers, however, soon realized that they could expect little in the way of political commentary and a lot in the way of knitting, dogs, self-centred musings about pregnancy, and other things of interest mainly to me and me alone, and so did not stick around.

Anyway, I fully intended to post yesterday and the day before, but Friday I was engaged on Important Adult Business and forgot, and yesterday I came rather dramatically down with a cold. Seriously, I was feverish, dizzy, seeing starbursts, and generally feeling very ill. If I had posted yesterday I imagine it would have been very Lovecraft-y and incoherent. Fortunately I followed my midwife’s advice – “If you feel unwell, see if it goes away after food, water, and rest; if not, call me” – and am much better. I still feel very scattered, though, as some siding for the refinished back room arrived and is currently taking up half the living room, and that plus two days of neglect have caused a sort of clutter explosion that I’m not up to dealing with yet. I find myself making detailed plans out loud about very basic things – “OK, I’ll put the sheets in the wash now and take them to the laundry to dry when the stock pot is on for dinner” – confusing Madeline a good deal.

But on the positive, my replacement DealExtreme tablet arrived on Friday, so at least I’ve been able to make snide blog comments while lying in bed with a fever.

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Things I noticed last week in Montreal:

– As you probably know, all street signs etc are in French. Not that it makes a big difference or anything – anyone who’s not a moron should be able to figure out the “Boul. Rene-Levesque” means “Rene Levesque Boulevard”. I don’t actually know but I assume this is because of Quebec’s famous language laws.

– But in Westmount, the tony English-speaking area, the street signs are just names. They don’t say “Rue Clark” or “Boul. Strachan”…just “Clark” and “Strachan”. I don’t know if this is some kind of hard-won compromise or a not-so-subtle “Fuck you!” to the language laws or if someone is going around with white paint and covering up those evil, evil French abbreviations, but weird.

– Montreal’s Chinatown is an absolute Hello Kitty mecca. I had to restrain myself from buying a Hello Kitty alarm clock, air freshener, inflatable pillow, portable cutlery set, mousepad, apron, matching his-and-hers coffee mugs, purse, and a lifetime supply of stickers and pillows. I settled for a red-for-good-luck Hello Kitty wallet.

– Alcohol is available *everywhere*. Party!

– Because of the upcoming election, there are signs everywhere. Like this one of Gilles Duceppe:


On every post in the area I was staying in, Gilles Duceppe stares down at you as if he’s trying to sell you life insurance. Yeesh.

Anyway, I had a great time and the show was awesome. If I don’t say so myself. 😉

Next up: acquire ukulele and learn how to play “Gimme some money” for my telethon.

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