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The Annals of Young Geoffrey: Hope brings a turtle [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Young Geoffrey

[ Website | Edifice Rex Online ]
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My tweets [Dec. 3rd, 2017|12:00 pm]
Young Geoffrey
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  • Sat, 19:51: RT @tithenai: Heyyy who wants to hear the story of why I'm crying in an airport on 3 hours of sleep? You? Gather round!
  • Sat, 19:51: RT @pnh: Going forward, I am opposed to any and all US Worldcon bids. Nobody in our community deserves this. https://t.co/l0Z1acUxCw
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My tweets [Dec. 1st, 2017|12:00 pm]
Young Geoffrey
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  • Thu, 23:19: RT @TolkienSociety: BLOG: David Bratman's take on the recent news that Amazon Studios has acquired the TV rights to The Lord of the Rings h…
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My tweets [Nov. 29th, 2017|12:00 pm]
Young Geoffrey
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  • Wed, 11:56: RT @ggreenwald: Throughout 2013 and 2014, journalists constantly demanded to know how we, as journalists, could possibly keep NSA data safe…
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My tweets [Nov. 27th, 2017|12:00 pm]
Young Geoffrey
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  • Sun, 16:43: RT @CharlotteAshley: New blog post! Writers, Publishers... A Short(ish) Introduction to Book Distribution. ASK ME QUESTIONS! https://t.co/e
  • Mon, 10:54: RT @ggreenwald: The outpouring of support for George W. Bush's CIA & NSA chief - who oversaw torture, rendition, illegal domestic spying an…
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Never coming home? [Nov. 25th, 2017|04:57 pm]
Young Geoffrey
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[music |Emmy the Great, 2nd Love]

Hogtown contemplations redux

Dundas Street West, from the overpass over the tracks

One thing I can say about Toronto without hesitation is that I would never discourage a young person from moving there. I know that obvious comparions can be tedious, but they are what I've got — and so — what you will get.

And so I cannot help but compare the streets of a bustling multi-cultural metropolis with the quiet by-ways of Ottawa or, as I like to call it, The City That Always Sleeps. What curious, imaginative young person would not prefer the chaos of the former to the serene tedium of the latter?

* * *

My own Hogtown sojourn ended where it began, in the home of my oldest friend, sharing bottles of beer, a half-watched hockey game, and the comfortable companionship that comes of long and close acquaintance. And night with Vern (and later, with Helena, when she arrived home from her small neighbourhood restaurant, with which I provided a name some eight or more years ago, and into which I have yet to set foot — too many painful memories), left me feeling considerably less melancholic than I had been.

Not all connections with my old home are broken. (Which I knew, of course, but which knowledge needs tangible reinforcement from time to time.)

Before that, was walking, walking, walking. A mode of transport I don't use often when at hoome, but one I prefer when visiting, whether some place new, or old familiar haunts.

And Toronto, of course, is both familiar and and changed, new to me.

Below, for those who might care, are some observations on the changes time and money have wrought upon Toronto. And of things that remain — or which seem to remain — more or less the same. (Well, of the changes and otherwise, that have been wrought upon one very small section of a pretty large city.)

* * *

Like Kensington Market, Parkdale itself is an area that still mostly looks largely unchanged from when I left eight years ago. But right on its borders, at Queen and Dufferin, loom like a fucking invading army, towers of glass promising an expensive high-rise future that will forever destroy the existing social fabric of a shabby, low-rise neighbourhood that has been for decades home to newcomers, to the poor and the working classes. (And to pockets of the middle classes, too; Parkdale is no slum.)

Being here now is like crossing a quiet expanse that you know will tomorrow be a battlefield.

* * *

At first glance, the phrase beautiful Toronto seems an oxymoron at best, a snide joke a worst. But (as I have noted before, and which has many times been noted by others), its neighbourhoods often have an organic, human-scale beauty that seems to have sprouted organically. It is especially noticeable in areas like Parkdale, where even still, the middle classes huddle cheek-by-jowl with the working classes and the desperately poor, and where wave upon wave of immigrants have rolled in and left a tithe of their numbers to permantly leave a positive mark upon the area.

In other words, Toronto's is not a physical beauty, like San Francisco's or Montreal's glamour, but a beauty of character, a beauty that requires a visitor to sit and stay for a spell, to get to know the place in order to appreciate what is there.

In an absolutely related note, I ate out five times during my trip. First, stopping on the way from the train station, at my old haunt, Java House, where both the prices and the qualities of its strictly bar-food level offerings seems utterly unchanged from a decade ago. (That was where, in the days of my habitual alcoholism, I was known to the staff as "Mr. Steam", for the Steamwhistle pilsner I then preferred. But I digress.)

The second was in Chinatown's Swatow, a non-descript hole-in-the-wall which turns out to be my friends' favourite and which Raven's reading on Chinese blogs told her was possibly the best place in Chinatown for the real thing. (And yes, my cheap lunch was very good.)

But it is in Parkdale that the cullinary differences between Toronto and (oh, say) Ottawa are made plain.

Tibet Kitchen

To put it simply, I went up to the plate three times and three times hit a culinary home run. The first was at Tibet Kitchen where on Wednesday I went for a mid-day breakfast. Ordered a simple beef with tomato on rice dish that was marvellously flavoured, about as tasty as anything but the very best food I've had in Ottawa. Ever. For about $13.00, taxes and tip included.

The place just happened to be up the street from where I've been staying.

Thursday night I took my host (and my father's sweetie) Frances out to an Italian restaurant that had been one of my regular places back when Parkdale was my home — maybe four blocks down the street. And Amico's veal (forgive me) parmesan was old-fashioned but every bit as a good as I remembered. And frankly better than any Italian food I've had in Ottawa, by quite a stretch. Dinner for both of us, with two beers apiece, ran about 60 bucks. And half of mine served as breakfast before we left for the train station this morning.

And Friday, I managed (after much internal debate) to convince myself to forego repeating yesterday's lunch in favour of, y'know, something new.

Nepalese instead of Tibetan. Not a big difference, you might think, but you'd be wrong.

Kasthamandap Nepalese Cuisine is another hole-in-the-hole, a block or block-and-a-half from the place I'd been to the day before. And if not better, than at least more unfamiliar — and so more of a happy surprise.

I had the Sukuti Daal Bhat Tekati set, which came served on a plain tin plate. A small bowl of dried curry beef rich with flavour and not too much oil, a small black lentil soup, a heap of steamed mustard greens, generously drenched with garlic, slightly sweetened potatoes, radish pickles (sweet) and fermented mustard leaf pickles (hot!). None of it was quite like anyting I've had before and all of it was delicious. (Most if not all of the items on menu have vegetarian twins, by the way.)

Nepalese Lunch

It was one of those meals I took my time with, a bite of this, a pause, a bite of that. Fucking heaven, to put it in a professional food reviewer's idiom. (The only disapointment was the mango lassi, adequate but served luke-warm — which might well be the traditional Nepalese way, but not to my taste.)

Like I said, three tries, three home-runs and not a one of them high-end. Thank god Raven and I (especially Raven, I admit) are decent cooks, because eating out costs a fortune in Ottawa and the results tend to be mediocre at best.

* * *

No doubt due in part to tha food, and aided and abetted to having recovered from Tuesday's brutal hang-over, as well as spending my last night with friends, my mood is considerably improved over that recounted in my previous entrty.

It's still a little sobering how few people there are in Toronto that I still want to see, and still strange to feel so much a stranger in city that was home for so many years (decades); I am a visitor to Toronto now, if one returning to a familiar destination, but I am no longer one coming homing.

But I am glad I made the trip. As the old saw has it, a change can be as good as a rest, and this has been both, if not for my feet.

* * *

One final thought. Ottawa claims a popolution of very nearly 1 million people, but it sure as hell doesn't feel like a city of that size. As a pedestrian wandering downtown, one might (might!) guess it at a quarter of a million.

On my first day in Toronto I walked about seven kilometres, Union Station to Parkdale. Doing that in Ottawa would have got me half-way to the airport. (To be fair, doing that east-west instead of north-south would have kept me within a more-or-less urban core. But the point remains. Ottawa's million people are spread monstrously thin, Toronto's knit tight into a city.

But for all that, I'm 52 years old and have come to like Ottawa for what it is, instead of dislike it for what it isn't. Still, a little more diversity, a little more density, would be welcome changes to the nation's capital ...

Union Station, South Side

This entry was originally posted at https://ed-rex.dreamwidth.org/292279.html. Comment there using OpenID, or here as per normal.

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My tweets [Nov. 25th, 2017|12:00 pm]
Young Geoffrey
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My tweets [Nov. 20th, 2017|12:00 pm]
Young Geoffrey
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My tweets [Nov. 19th, 2017|12:00 pm]
Young Geoffrey
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My tweets [Nov. 15th, 2017|12:00 pm]
Young Geoffrey
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My tweets [Nov. 12th, 2017|12:00 pm]
Young Geoffrey
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On the Importance of Tangible Symbols [Nov. 11th, 2017|10:31 pm]
Young Geoffrey
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My son and two of his cousins

My sweetie, known here as Raven on account of her once-Rave-black hair (now shot through with grey) and her preference for keeping an extremely low online profile turned 34 on Monday. For a variety of reasons, including the aformentioned greying hair, she is not thrilled that she is, as she put it more than once over the days running up to the anniversary, "getting old". (That I am now looking "forward" to turning 53 in February means any sympathy I have for her chronowoes is pretty pro forma.

Anyway, after something like 6 years of working a moveable shift, never knowing more than two weeks in advance what hours, or even what days, I would have to make my way to the airport, I have now begun working a regular shift. Monday through Thursday, 14:00 hours to whenever they send me home — usually between midning and 02:00. Long hours, yes, but regular, four days on, three off.

However, that means that this year, I was working on Raven's birthday, so we agreed to celebrate as we celebrate just about everything: with food, and on Sunday, the day before her actual birthday.

And more, she was willing to wait until after my championship soccer game. (See my previous post, Weeeeee Are the Champions, My Friends ...) After all, I had officially given her her birthday present a couple of weeks ago, when we went to see The Phantom of the Opera at the National Arts Centre. (I think quite highly of Jesus Christ Super-Star, but of the Phantom, all I really have to say is that the music didn't move me, but the sets were really nicely done.)

Now the truth is, we're not actually very big on rituals, Raven and I. We've been together for more than 7 years now, but have never married and, in fact, we both forgot about our anniversary this year. It was a week or so after the event that I realized it and brought it to her attention.

But that doesn't mean that rituals don't have some importance, even to people like us.

After I returned, cold but triumphant, from the pitch, I showered and then came downstairs, to where Raven had called me. She had found a restaurant she wanted to try and wanted to make sure I would be open to the menu, featuring food from one of China's southern, non-Han, provinces. The menu looked fine to me, the web said the restaurant closed at 10:00 PM (restaurant closing times are a Big Deal in Ottawa, in case you're wondering; trying to find trying to find food that isn't pizza, Chinese or Vietnamese after 9:00 is difficult at the best of times. Sunday nights, nearly impossible), so we headed out into the rain to the Virus Car I'd booked for three hours.

I should have known we were in for trouble when Raven's GPS lead us on a wild goose chase, costing us probably 10 minutes before we found our destination. And when we did, at around 9:05, we found out the interwebs had *gasp* lied to us. Not only did Yunan Fusion close at 9:00 PM on Sunday nights, it closes at 9:00 PM every night.

Raven was already frustrated by the wonky GPS directions, and we reached our second choice and found that it too was closed.

By this point, Raven was right pissed. And a pissed Raven is a scary Raven, make no mistake. I tried to jolly her out of her funk, but — with considerable restraint — she asked me to just let her vent for a little while, as I drove us back to our own neighbourhood and my favourite (yes, mine; Raven says they all taste pretty much the same to her) Vietnamese restaurant, a mere four blocks from home.

Her mood did improve over dinner (as it always does; her mood droops badly when she's hungry), but she was still dealing with a lot of disappointment as to how her not-quite birthday had gone.

And so, I decided that I wasn't going to wait for the card I had intended to get her and went to my office, where I had secreted a small box, in which lay a pendant I had picked out for her a few days before.

Nothing really expensive (of course nothing really expensive on my barely-more than minimum wage salary), and far less than the theatre tickets had cost, but it was a necklace whose stone had caught my eye and hoovered another 55 bucks from my wallet.

(A confession: Though when I bought the pendant last week I did so with her birthday in mind, between the Phantom, a couple of dinners out, and the fact that I hadn't found a card for her, I had been having second thoughts and was pondering saving it for a Christmas present. But her downcast demeanour put an end to that selfish fantasy.)

There really isn't much more to the story. I left her sitting on our bed, and came back with a small box.

"I was saving this for when I found a card for you," I said, "but you seemed so down I thought I should give this to you now."

And reader, face lit up story-book fashion: she beamed.

Yes, she liked the pendant, but it wasn't the gift that so lifted her spirits, it was the fact of the gift. That I had made the effort to shop for her (she knows I hate to shop), the fact that the gift was strictly for her, and not (as with food and theatre) for us.

And that's it, really. Nothing earth-shaking, but a good reminder to someone like me that people need tangible reminders, from time to time, that they are loved.

This entry was originally posted at https://ed-rex.dreamwidth.org/291182.html. Comment there using OpenID, or here as per normal.

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Weeeeee Are the Champions, My Friends ... [Nov. 11th, 2017|06:39 pm]
Young Geoffrey
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Final results are final. OC Hammer FC wins the championship on penalty kicks, 9 to 8.

Maybe some of you remember that I took up recreation soccer (futbol) a year or two after I moved to Ottawa. (More to the point, a year or two after I stopped smoking.)

Or maybe I'm being presumptous, what with the state of LJ/DW these days. Maybe some of you remember me?

Regardless, I am no longer just some (old-ish) guy who signs up with a pay-to-play recreational league, playing with and against kids mostly in their 20s and early 30s, but am now the captain of my own team. Still paying to play, but now responsible for getting the filthy lucre out of my own team-mates' pockets.

Anyway, this past season was brutal. I waited too long to get together a full roster, and so was out of pocket about $300 instead of just my own share, and further, more than half the games necessitated a last-minute scramble for subs in order to field at least 6 players.

Nevertheless, though we ended up in fourth place, we came together as a team just at the right time. We man-handled the regular-season first place finishers 11 to 3, and in the championship game, with only six players on the field the entire 90 minutes (yes, Young Geoffrey, too), we took the game to penalty kicks, and took the (Sunday, co-ed, Division 5) championship 8 to 7.

It wasn't quite like winning the Stanley Cup, but — by damn! — it was pretty damned satisfying anyway! (Pretty damned cold, too. Our last game was played on a drizzly field with the temperature hovering around 5 C.)

So, in honour of said victory, in hopes of another in the upcoming seaons, please indulge me in the presentation of a brief piece of video proof that I really do make it onto the pitch.

This entry was originally posted at https://ed-rex.dreamwidth.org/290831.html. Comment there using OpenID, or here as per normal.

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My tweets [Nov. 10th, 2017|12:00 pm]
Young Geoffrey
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My tweets [Nov. 7th, 2017|12:00 pm]
Young Geoffrey
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  • Mon, 16:11: RT @ggreenwald: This claim was RT'd by 6K people, including many US journalists, and is totally false. Those who most loudly decry Fake New…
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My tweets [Nov. 4th, 2017|12:00 pm]
Young Geoffrey
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My tweets [Nov. 2nd, 2017|12:00 pm]
Young Geoffrey
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My tweets [Oct. 29th, 2017|12:00 pm]
Young Geoffrey
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My tweets [Oct. 25th, 2017|12:00 pm]
Young Geoffrey
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My tweets [Oct. 24th, 2017|12:00 pm]
Young Geoffrey
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My tweets [Oct. 22nd, 2017|12:00 pm]
Young Geoffrey
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