Tag Archives: toronto

What do you love about where you live?

Posted on April 25, 2016 by

Toronto, Day 1074. I am sitting on a bench in Nathan Phillips Square, a few weeks shy of our third anniversary of moving here. I’m looking at old City Hall and the new Toronto sign that was installed for the Pan-American games. This vast public square is a five minute walk from my door, and if the rooftop garden was open I would be sitting there instead.

Instead, I am watching a couple hundred people futz around in the early evening sun, waving selfie sticks, chasing pigeons, practicing synchronized dance moves, and climbing on the Henry Moore statue, The Archer, in front of the main entrance. There’s a young guy going from person to person asking them to take pictures of him making a “two thumbs up” gesture.

In another week or two, they’ll refill the fountain. Right now it has been cleared of its winter layer of skating ice, and is a bare concrete surface. People are taking advantage of the opportunity to get their loved ones inside the sign from a closer angle. There are kids and dogs and cyclists and seniors, single pedestrians, couples, families, tourists and packs of friends. It is Saturday night, and nobody’s in a hurry, and from this distance everyone seems to be at play, in a good mood.

The Square has two moods as far as I have seen. One is this – tourists and Torontonians chilling out. The other is thronging with some kind of organized activity, whether it is a farmers market, Nuit Blanche, a political rally, a big art show, or a formal parade. It’s not a park or in anyway green space, but it’s right next toOsgoode Hall, which has a law library, beautiful grounds and all the squirrels you could throw a nut at.

So there you have it: I love City Hall.

Three Awesomes, One Week

Posted on August 1, 2015 by

photoFriday happened and I didn’t manage to post anything… honestly, because I forgot I was trying for a few gratitudes to wrap up the week. But…

One of the things that is exceedingly lovely for me is that notes are coming in from my trusted readers on the nth-draft version of The Nature of a Pirate, and the feedback so far leads me to believe that it’s about as good as I think it is, with a few fixable flaws to give it personality.

Even now, Kelly is typing madly at the last of what I know will be an excellent and insightful round of comments.

Two: I have begun work on what I hope will be a short story (as opposed to a novelette, or a novellismo, or a novella, or some other deitydamned long thing, that is) and I’m dictating the draft. Its working titles are “The Perils of Slow Reflexes in Meatspace” and/or possibly “The Euphemism Font.” Dictating meant I could work anywhere, and I spent a happy couple of hours on the shore of Lake Ontario today, looking at all my fellow sun-worshippers, enjoying the breeze, committing fiction, laughing at doggy antics and taking the occasional bird photo. Then I went to the bakery and bought a serious load of Forno Cultura cookies and bread items, which is a source of gratitude all on its own.

Third and finally: I am beginning to bash away at the beginnings of having a Redbubble store for a few of my best photographs. What this means, eventually, will be that a handful of them will be up all the time for the ordering, as prints, greeting cards, tablet skins, and what-have-you. And when someone asks for a print of something specific, as sometimes happens, I’ll add that to the mix, possibly on a limited-time-offer kind of deal.

What it means now is a lot of experimenting and play, some of it with photos that will only be up until I determine exactly what I want. One of the current experiments is the above shot of CinCin, which–thanks to Cats of Instagram–is now and will probably remain the shot of mine seen by most humans anywhere ever.

If you’ve asked for a print in the past, still want it, and remember the shot (or can even describe it using your words) let me know and I’ll bump it up the queue.  And yes–the dragonfly close-up will go up soon, I promise, once I’ve racked up a few more experiments.

Toronto, day 608

Posted on January 15, 2015 by

imageI am sitting in my office with Chinchilla stretched out across my lap, occupying the space atop my left hand, and so I am dictating this blog entry on my phone.

Fiction writing continues to be in revision/wrap-up mode: I have been rereading the last couple novels in the trilogy, just reacquainting myself with every little detail and thinking about where I might insert one more story element into the last book. I am simultaneously trying to trim a novelette down to 7500 words, the better to send it to a specific horror market. (160 words to go!)

Over at UCLA, Novel Writing II opens next week: I will have a dozen writers working on 50 pages apiece, for 10 weeks.

I finished reading Hilary Mantel’s Bring Up the Bodies on the weekend,and the history book of the moment is A.N. Wilson’s The Victorians. The next novel I will read is for a review, so you’ll hear about it when I’m done.

And television this winter is currently taking the form of re-watching the Laurie/Fry  Jeeves and Wooster, watching Marvel’s Agent Carter, and slipping in the occasional episode of Community.

I have not been out to take pictures in a couple weeks, but yesterday on my way to get my glasses adjusted I did get a great look at what was almost certainly a peregrine falcon, fluffed up against the cold as it sat on a branch on D’Arcy Street. I will spare you all the pixelated phone shots. It was, however, miraculous.

Cafe Writers Unite (Toronto day 578)

Posted on December 16, 2014 by

Something I did in October when I was in Vancouver was to tell everyone I know that I’d be at Caffe Calabria in the mornings, writing if I had the place to myself, and socializing if anyone cared to show. I met Barb there. Badger came, as did Emily from our old condo. I figured I’d see some of the cafe regulars, but it turned out there are a shocking number of them: I saw both Toms, for example, the alternate-energy physicist and the religious studies professor. An aspiring YA author, Jenny, was there both mornings. I caught Adita and Harry, the snowbirds whose daughter is a poet, on their last day in Canada. Oscar was there (what I know about Oscar is TMI for the Internet), and Yespat the engineer. I even exchanged friendly hellos with a trio of people I think of (not that this reflects well on me, but their voices carry and all they do is bitch bitch bitch some more) as the Friday Snark Club.

The sheer number of people I had a “Hey, how are ya?” relationship with and the delight that came with seeing them made me realize how many connections I’d built up just by going to work at dawn in the same place, 6-7 days a week, 2 hours a day. It drove home that I hadn’t even begun to do that particular kind of in-community root-growing here.

This lack of effort was no accident–in fact, I had it scheduled for November. I didn’t put much effort into a cafe hunt in May when we first moved to our new building. I knew there’d be guests coming and then travel and more guests and more travel, and the publicity push for Child of a Hidden Sea and then the film festival and more travel atop that. It was a thoroughly awesome summer and autumn, but I wasn’t keeping to the sort of schedule that makes it possible for me to settle into a routine.

Of course it was impossible I’d score another place quite as perfect as Calabria. It was 300 meters from my door, it opened at six in the morning, and Frank Murdocco’s eclectic curation of 20th century music is uniquely delightful, irreplaceable.

But! Now that October and all those trips are in the rearview, I’ve been going to a recently opened cafe called Portland Variety. The coffee is excellent, the atmosphere is right, the staff is lovely, tables are plentiful and the music leans to jazz (which is easier to tune out than pop, satellite radio’s litest hits or the go-to choice at Jimmy’s Cafe, the Doors.) I’m comfortable working here for hours on end, and there are starting to be other morning regulars. It’s not obscenely close to home, but the route back to the condo leads past the grocery, and that’s a significant plus.

It’s promising, in other words. I have high hopes that at last I’ve found this particular piece of my workaday puzzle.

Toronto, day 565

Posted on December 3, 2014 by

imageAccording to my handy-dandy day-counting app, we’ve been here for 565 days now. I’m poking my nose into my second Ontario winter, and am curious to see how I feel about it now that the cold and snow lack, a bit, for novelty.

What’s far more significant to most of us about this time of year is less the dig for coats and toques packed away months before, and more the monolithic rah-rah-Christmasness of it all. December has come again, bringing with it three stat holidays configured, this time ’round, into one four day weekend and a Thursday off the following week.

Needless to say, this probably won’t be the most sentimental Alyx and Kelly Christmas ever. We’re never very sentimental, are we? There will be firsts: our first holiday with CinZo (and sans Rumble), the first in the new apartment… ah, that may be it.

The plan, such as it is, is to eat a couple nice meals out and see if we can find several amazing movies to see. Got any candidates? Anyone here a fan of doing a matinee on the 25th?

CinCin practices pinup poses on her plinth.

CinZo have gotten their present already: having failed numerous times to make the $3 cheapo versions work–and straining my hand in the process–I ordered a pricey and thoroughly awesome laser pointer that doubles as an LED flashlight and a UV flash too. (What does one do with a UV flash, exactly?) It debuted yesterday and we ran the kids up and down the apartment, up and down the cat tree and in circles until they were heaving with exhaustion.

There will, inevitably, be footage of this as soon as the right lighting comes my way.

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