In celebration of Ireland's YES vote, I thought I'd post a few pics of the beaver we've seen recently paddling along the shore here in Mimico. She seems to enjoy coming to munch on the tender greens on the little island near our apartment before heading back "home" near the park by the EYC.
Waterfront Toronto recently released five design proposals for the Ferry Terminal and surrounding area. As they are currently on display in the rotunda at City Hall, I took one of my kids to see them over the March Break.
The designs are creative and -- in some cases -- provocative.
As my partner commented when we got home that evening, "whichever design they choose, it will be an improvement over what's there now!" Agreed. But my kid and I still picked the same one we like the best!
Although we were intrigued by the slotted roof and market place idea in the Civic Canopy proposal, we were both drawn most to Harbour Landing, an organic, Toronto-friendly design by the KPMB-West 8-Geenberg Team...
We loved the idea of a hilly park that extended over top of the canopy of the ferry terminal. Continuing a summer walk above while others bought ferry tickets below just seems so multi-purpose, continuous... and we really liked the pools, too.
The mock-up and panels for this proposal gave us a good feel for how it might turn out. The design seems authentic and unpretentious. We could see ourselves there, buying tickets to the Island.
All five designs are on display here, as is a survey. Check out the proposals, and provide your feedback: You can't complain about the result if you don't give your input when invited!
Tats came home late the other day, just as I was beginning to panic about what horrible fate might have befallen her. She had a good story, though... here it is:
Having ridden my bike all over Toronto for the last ten years, I've had many critters run, fly and waddle across my path. Cats. Dogs. Squirrels. Raccoons. Ducks. Geese. As of yesterday, I can add another species to the list: a Vietnamese Pot-Bellied Pig. Yes, pig.
I was riding my bike home on Royal York having dropped off one of our kids at his rock-climbing class, when a pig nonchalantly trotted across the road, stopping the few drivers and pedestrians who happened to be around in their tracks. People were laughing and taking pictures, but no one seemed to be calling OSPCA or Animal Control, which I found surprising. I would have done it, but my phone is currently sim-card free, so it cannot make calls.
I couldn't leave the poor piggie all alone now!
And so I followed her.
That proved a challenging task, for the pig had no respect for property boundaries and, despite being pot-bellied, was able to fit through considerably smaller openings that I, especially since I still had my bike with me. At one point I lost sight of her, but a passer-by, having inquired whether I was "looking for a pig", directed me back across Royal York, to the back yard of one of the triplexes whither the pig had apparently decided to wander.
I was joined in my quest by a woman carrying a slip-on leash (just happens to carry it in her car in case there is a pig on the loose, it turns out), a man and a teenaged boy. The woman tried to coral the pig in a corner by a chainlink fence, while I stood a bit back to cut off an escape route back onto Royal York and the man and the boy hung back, yelling to the woman "Stay away from the animal! It looks agitated! It's not your job to save it! It's dangerous."
The pig -- who was obviously someone's pet -- didn't look all too dangerous, but, since the lady with the leash had her hands in her pockets, must have assumed that there were treats to be had, and was indeed becoming increasingly agitated. She started nibbling the lady's coat and eventually jumped up on her, sending the poor woman flying right into the puddle, splashes and all! I helped the lady get up and retrieve her phone, while the man and the boy walked away, not willing to risk their life and limb in a face-off with a lethal monster that is a pot-bellied pet piggy. Classy move, dudes.
Luckily, the cell phone that had landed right by the edge of the puddle was undamaged, and some phone calls were being made. Apparently the lady had already called 911 a few minutes ago, in the heat of the moment, but they refused to send out a fire truck, lights a-flashing and siren a-blazing, to trap a pig on the loose. Call us back when it's a tiger was their message. Then she tried 311, 411, Animal Control... I wasn't paying much attention to the numbers she was dialling, since I kept following the roving pig, trying to guide her away from traffic and back into the back yard.
Some residents emerged from the triplex, rubbing their eyes and asking: "Is this what I think it is?" If you think it's a pig, then yes. It is. One of the residents brought out a head of lettuce and starting feeding the pig, which at least kept her in one place. Once the lettuce ran out though, the pig wanted more and was not shy about letting us know that, and the guy had to keep a fine balance between allowing the pig to throw him into the puddle and scaring her away completely.
A few more people came and left, offering their commentary ("I hope this pig's not heading to the No Frills across the way, not unless it's suicidal, hah hah!"), but no sign of Animal Services. I was getting cold and worn out and I knew Vera must have been getting concerned about my absence: she was expecting me to be home right about now since she had to leave for an engagement in town, and I was supposed to take on child-minding duty. But what could I do?! I had a pig to save!
Finally, a car pulled into the driveway. A man came out, walked up to the pig and, petting her hairy back, mumbled: "Hmmm, Olympia, so how are we going to get you home?"
Owner and pig appeared to be reunited. Except... he wasn't sure how to get her home!
The man rigged up a harness or so out of a length of rope, but the pig -- who had been all about roaming the neighbourhood half an hour ago -- was now perfectly content to stay where it was.
She refused to budge!
After a considerable amount of pushing, pulling and head-scratching, the owner decided that she would just have to go for a ride in the trunk.
Olympia the pig didn't think much of that plan and put up a good fight as the man tried to wrestle her in. Even after the trunk closed, she continued to struggle, which made for a scene right out of a cheap Hollywood thriller.
"Don't get stopped by the police!" I told the owner, and finally, after an hour of pig-herding, was on my way.
At home, I was greeted by a very concerned-looking girlfriend who announced that she was about to call start calling the police and the hospitals. "You better have a good excuse!" she exclaimed.
I pulled out my phone with the pictures and grinned at her: "Oh, do I ever..."
Instead of the CN Tower and city skyline, there was nothing to be seen in the distance.
Grey day means no VFR flying... but that doesn't mean one can't go biking! And we did! In the snow and ice! Bundled up warmly, we trekked off along the lake to get some groceries and enjoy the winter landscape along the shoreline.
The hardest part was what to do with the bikes upon return. The typical ride in weather like this yields about a bucket and a half dull of slush, ice and -- eventually -- dirty water. Not great for the wood floors in the apartment! So Tats fashioned a drying mat out of two black garbage bags, and we parked my bike on top, until it rides again, to school tomorrow morning.
From September to June, I am an apartment dweller.
My apartment is on the top floor of an 8-storey building, and overlooks Lake Ontario and the city skyline here in Toronto.
Usually, it's the colours I notice when I stand at the door to the balcony in the morning, ritualistically sipping my lemon water with chlorophyll... but the colour scheme in winter here on the lake becomes pretty monochromatic, and this morning, it was the movement along the shoreline which captivated me for so long, and which aided in my procrastination from working on report cards...
The first little bay was mostly frozen, but behind the island, the water rippled in the wind, and a little further down a spray of waves lapped gently up against the shore. Between the first island and the shore, a cluster of ducks huddled together in the half-ice/half water, a flurry of wings occasionally disturbing the peace as one or more birds either joined the huddle or departed it to get on with the business of their ducky day.
Further out, the movement was more vigorous in the water, and I observed the waves pushing determinedly towards the shores out behind the landfill park. Even the steady, silent city in the background had its moving accents: The blades of the large windmill downtown could be seen turning in the distance, a small plane flew overhead en route to CYTZ, and white puffs drifted silently from so many smokestacks, creating little white streams of "cloud" in front of the taller buildings behind.
The upper winds were relatively strong, too, and the real clouds overhead moved in large foreboding clusters across the grey winter skies.
Closer to home, a little brown dog is running along the snow-covered path, an enormous stick trailing from her mouth. Her owner lags behind but catches up as Dawg drops her treasure and stops to sniff a nearby bush. Even barren vegetation in winter offers a plethora of meaningful scent to the discerning canine!
I am drawn back into my apartment, and over to my desk, where my laptop sits calling to me amid stacks of neatly ordered piles of student work samples... "Report cards, Ms. Teschow... " I hear it calling gently... and then, a little louder and considerably more firmly: "Come on, lady, you only have two hours before you have to get your kids, get started already!"
First Hallowe'en without the kids was bittersweet... last year at this time, we were in Buenos Aires, and this past week I got three emails from some of last year's people asking me if there was any plan for this year's event, hehe. (We've been gone since May!!)
So this year was Trevor's turn, and with Tats out of province, I decided to volunteer to help shell out at my building.
As the weather was fairly lousy, we actually didn't get that many children passing through. But, give me a few dozen chocolate bars and couple baggies of cheesies, and I'm happy as a pig in shit!
It was nice to hang out with some of my neighbours for a low key evening in the lobby, and I enjoyed seeing some of the unique and interesting hallowe'en costumes of my fellow apartment dwellers, their children, and -- in several cases -- their pets!
The boys, meanwhile, were at their dad's... having come home early, they were busily sorting through their hallowe'en candy before selecting a previously agreed-upon number to indulge in.
The great thing about the Lakeshore is that it offers something for everyone -- truly, whether I turn left or right out of my building's driveway, whether I walk, bike or TTC it, I can drink tea, meet with colleagues or friends/family, shop for fresh produce, gourmet chocolate or Kleenex, drugs and toilet paper, I can swim, do laundry, eat Indian, Thai and Mexican, I can fly airplanes and more.... all along the Lakeshore!!!
person at Birds and Beans next door, I headed off in the opposite direction, to meet some fellow parents of multiples: three sets of twins and one set of triplets enjoyed an afternoon of soaking and soccer at the splashpad on Lakeshore, near Dixie.
Back at home later on, I met a friend for dinner -- Thai! Just short walk from my building, still on the Lakeshore, in the other direction once again.
The next morning, it was off to the Airport, also along Lakeshore, to go flying...
(Flying pics -- click to enlarge)
Upon biking back home after flying, I enjoyed lunch on the balcony of my apartment overlooking the Lake and the CN Tower I had just encircled at 2000 ft., and celebrated my good fortune at having found a place to call home along the Lakeshore.
Went flying today, with a friend -- my first flight with another pilot friend since my finally finishing my licence requirements last fall. And what a gorgeous day to go flying... Marias -- this blog post is for YOU, to convince you to come visit us soon!!! ;-P
(If you hover over any of the photos, there is a caption.)
After my flight, I rode my bike home, and stopped to take a few more photos. I love the Lakeshore, both from the ground as well as the sky! :D
I've not been sleeping much.
Apart from the endless unpacking, sorting and reorganizing of household items here in the apartment, there is the ongoing challenge of trying to remember where eight months' worth of stuff has been hidden, stored, sorted away... as someone was staying here while we traveled this past year, we elected to box up all of our clothes and personal items, leaving only furniture and basic kitchen supplies behind.
Where it all went is a mystery to me now, and it keeps me up at night, as I suddenly remember -- or think I remember -- where a certain object might be, and consider when and how we can get it back to 807.
Sure, we kept inventories... sort of. But unfortunately, my at the time apparently scrupulous list that include such items as "Rick's - assorted clothes" and "Caley's - bike stuff" doesn't enlighten me as to which box my socks are in in the mountain in Rick's closet, or whether "bike stuff" includes a pump, or if I should better take one with me to Caley's garage, where our bikes have been living for the past several months, tires likely in need of air...
Wedged in between scheming about how to reunite ourselves with our scattered belongings are mental planning sessions to prepare several upcoming workshops I am facilitating for teachers, which I have not put together concrete agendas or handouts for yet. This, too, keeps me up at night.
I took a break from it all yesterday, and went to my old school, to volunteer with a field trip. I packed up a box of Alfajors to share in the staff room, and set off to the bus stop for the ride across two transit systems, to Mississauga. (Boy, was I missing the comprehensive bus lines of Buenos Aires!)
It was so much fun to see everyone again; the students, the staff, parents... a selection of Grade 3-5 students were participating in a track meet, and I had been asked to come along as a volunteer. Despite the threatening clouds, it turned out to be a really nice day, and I enjoyed reconnecting with everyone.
Of course, the first question people ask is "HOW WAS ARGENTINA?" often followed by "How is it, being back?"
Although I was anticipating such queries, and had thought about them at length, I had not come up with a succinct and catchy response. I mean, how does one effectively summarize nearly a year spent on the other side of the equator? How does one describe the feeling of being "home" again after such an adventure to those who've never left?
It seems like only yesterday we were standing, somewhat stunned and in denial, out front of our BsAs apartment with all our luggage, waiting for our remise to the Airport, or ziplining across the canopy in Salta, or staring in awe at the Falls in Iguazu, or laughing and joking with the Marias and other friends...
After several days of unpacking and fighting to figure out our wifi set up (a combination of router problems and my own stupidity resulted in 72 hours without internet access here at home!), I am drinking mate again now, and that helps considerably.
And slowly, I am getting used to paying for things with bills that aren't disintegrating in one's hands, and to not checking my pockets every thirty seconds to make sure my phone hasn't been pick pocketed (I am locking the doors now, though!)
After a few days of lurching at and then pulling back awkwardly from everyone I meet, I am remembering sooner and with greater consistency that we do not kiss friends and strangers here, and am reverting to my old habits of a smile and a friendly handshake, or the occasional hug where warranted. That's been an unusually strange feeling; the kissing on one cheek habit was a hard one to acquire, and once programmed in, I'm finding it's a hard habit to shake. I guess I'm innately more touchy-feely than I thought I was.
And I finally have my bike back!
I knew for sure that I was back in Toronto when -- on my way home yesterday -- I crossed the 427 bridge on the Queensway and had several people honk at me: A bike loaded down with two overstuffed panniers, a backpack, a box from the post office, and me would be irrelevant amongst the cartonaros, mopeds, and a million buses and cars on the streets of Buenos Aires; here in Toronto, such a thing stands out like a sore thumb, inviting incredulous stares from passing drivers, accompanied often by honking and the occasional outburst of profanity.
I was further reminded that I was back in Canada when -- too lazy to remove all my luggage and haul it into the grocery store with me at the end of my bike-errand run -- I left it all outside (bike was locked, mind you, but anyone could have walked away with the backpack, or unloaded the panniers and helped themselves to the contents) while I picked up a few grocery items, and, when I came out of the store, behold -- everything was still there! :D
As I wheeled my now-too-full-to-ride bike two blocks home, I glanced around and drank in the familiar sights and sounds: An abundance of grass, the Lake and waterfront trail, Mimico Square, a bird symphony...
I got upstairs to the apartment, stood on the balcony, stared out over the tree canopy that defines Toronto, and thought, I'm tired, I miss our BsAs friends and some routines there, and here I am currently feeling somewhat engulfed in a never ending "to-do" list... But all in all, I'm happy to be home!
After writing for several teacher and multiple birth publications, including ETFO's Voice Magazine, Multiple Moments, and the Bulletwin, Vera turned her written attention to prolific blogging for some years, including BiB, "Learn to Fly with Vera!" and SMARTbansho . Homeschooling 4 was her travel blog in Argentina. She now spends more time on her Instagram (@schalgzeug_usw) than her blog (pictures are worth a thousand words?!)
The views expressed on this blog are the views of the author, and do not necessarily represent the perspectives of her family members or the position of her employer on the the issues she blogs about. These posts are intended to share resources, document family life, and encourage critical thought on a variety of subjects. They are not intended to cause harm to any individual or member of any group. By reading this blog and viewing this site, you agree to not hold Vera liable for any harm done by views expressed in this blog.