Sunday, August 19, 2007

A Life outside of Reno

Today we decided to do something completely unrelated to the renovation. Hallelujah thought the kids, I'm sure.

Brilliant man that he is, the hubby involved the kids in determining the top three things to do today. They entailed going down to High Park for some cycling and maybe checking out the zoo there, lunch around that neighbourhood, and then coming back to the grandparents' condo for a swim. Anything that involved cycling is a big thrill for the boy these days. The girl just loves to go anywhere the rest of us are going, which is perfect. It will be a change when she gets a real vote in the family.

For lunch, rather than High Park, we went to Roncesvalles village, an area that Ian lived in while we were dating, just before we got engaged. He lived in a house with two other guys (one an old friend from highschool). He even learned a bit of Polish while living there (just enough say hello in the meat shops). Just driving into that area brought back so many memories for us. It's a very eclectic neighbourhood, with older homes, many of them semi's, likely built around the early 1900's. Lots of beautiful trees, young families, students. Little grocery stores, deli's, pubs; snapshots of our previous life.

We popped into this pub called "Loons", which has a wicked patio in the back. We'd been there years before, when it was another restaurant. No kids back then; the vibe was certainly different for us this time. Our kids are pretty good, but there was still a lot of catering to them, not so much time to enjoy the ambiance or focus on the lovely pints of Steam Whistle beer that we ordered for the occasion. Lunch conversation consisted of playing tic-tac-toe on the kids menu while discussing whether hubby will be home for our upcoming wedding anniversary... at least we were able to sit down for most of the meal as we gave G a hiatus from the toilet-training.

Afterwards, we headed over to High Park, taking a drive through the neighbourhood where we bought our first house together. After living in the suburbs for 7 years, everything looks so cramped. It is technically the "Junction" part of town, but we liked to think of it as Upper Bloor West Village, as it was only a 5 minute walk away to the great shops, restaurants and services on Bloor. A lot has changed in that time that we've been away. There's now a Walmart not far (a good thing?!); the area of Dundas St. W doesn't look as "rough" or barren as it was when we lived there.

Sensory memories are so incredible. I was trying to explain that feeling that came upon me as we were driving through our old neighbourhood. So difficult to put into words, sort of like the sensations that you experience when a certain song brings back vivid memories. The feeling of excitement, being newly married, with our first house in a picture-perfect, tree-lined neighbourhood. Our whole future coupledom starting on such great footings.

Ian didn't really feel it as he wasn't in love with our first house. He always found it too cramped (for me it was "cozy"). We had a beautiful deck/carport but it was at the end of our backyard, and the raccoons took it over as their condo. The last straw was the winter that Bad Boy Mayor Mel Lastman brought the army in for the terrible snowfall. Ian got on the roof of the house to push the snow off - he was worried (with good reason) about our roof caving in. And he had the time, as we couldn't move for a couple days as the streets were too filled with snow and couldn't be plowed. Check out the red pants:

Although he had loved the neighbourhood. We both did - in fact we looked there for a bigger place when I was pregnant with Liam, but we lost out on more than a couple of houses due to bidding wars, and the market back then was nowhere near as hot as it is now.

We made our way over to High Park, and the boys hit the bike trail while us girls hit the playground. Give G a swing and she'll love you for life. After playing there and mucking around in the sand a bit, we had to make a dash over to the Grenadier restaurant to meet the guys. Along the way I saw a sign for the High Park Stage - Shakespeare in the park. More great memories - I used to come down all the way from Scarborough with girlfriends to sit on the grassy hills and watch the free productions of Dream in High Park in the summer. When we were so young and so starry-eyed.

We never made it to the condo for a swim. It was too brilliant out, so we basked in more sunshine before heading home.

Toronto has so much to offer in the summer. I'm so glad we took the time to enjoy some of it today. Summer is just whipping by and there's so much yet to experience before school starts again.


Pinks & Blues said...

It sounds like you had a fabulous day! I know the feeling you were talking about when revisiting some old memories... It's that lingering feeling of familiarity and home and safety (in a way)... I love it. I am so anxous to get out and visit Toronto. I was there as a child, but haven't been back since - must be a thing we do soon!!
- Audrey
Pinks & Blues

Family Adventure said...

Bet it was a relief for everyone to just get away from everything for a few hours. Not just the kiddies. What a walk down memory lane. Karen - I feel like I am getting to know you so much better through this blog. Who knew that I'd have to go to Norway for that to happen?! Enjoy the last few days of summer. School just started in Norway today!!

BeachMama said...

It sure sounds like an awesome day. I have a hard time driving by our first house. We only moved two and a half years ago, but I really loved it and it was where J was born. I know we are better off now, with enough space for us all, but I still miss the old house every now and then.

Seeing that photo of winter really gave me the shivers!!

Curiosity.Killer said...

I like the pose in the red pants. Not just the red pants. The pose and the red pants go together like I've never imagined before. LOL

Cherry said...

Oh that house looks so cute. I'd love to live in a cute neighborhood with tree lined streets, but they just don't come like that around here.

What great memories and a great way to spend the day with your kids.

Chrissy said...

I LOVE that part of Toronto! I had an old flame from college that lived on Roncesvalles. That area just brings back memories. We were so youthful, full of ideas of changing the world, keeping a green household, vermicomposting, having an organic co-op, etc. He was a thinker and an artsy, sensitive soul...and he was HOT!!! He vowed to never 'fit into a box' or conform. *sigh* He's now a lawyer and I now live on a farm.

Karen MEG said...

Audrey-you must visit TO - so much to do here, especially with kids.
Heidi-that is funny, I think during our coffee/chats it's always been about the kids! When you're back we'll have to have a girls' night, no kids, no hubbies, a few glasses of wine and you'll see the real me no holds-barred LOL!

Karen MEG said...

Beachmama- I know if we ever move from this place it would be so much harder - both kids born into this one, so LOTs of memories here. Remember that winter of '99? We were the laughing stock of the country, esp. Quebec!
CK-yes, a hottie in hot red! Lucky me LOL!
Cherry-great to see you're back! Hope you're doing well. Cute is certainly the word for that house; I'm just itching to see what it looks like inside now that it's changed hands a couple times.
Chrissy!!!! Welcome home girlie! Roncesvalles is certainly a "young persons" neighbourhood. Did you ever go to the Revue Cinema? Stinky, stanky but oh so much fun on a date, especially with a hottie :)

Family Adventure said...

Hey, Karen, that's a deal. We'll leave the kids with Ian and Mike and bring in the vino. Can't wait!
- Heidi
Oh, and we'll leave the kids and husbands in my house, and sit in your brand new, beautiful kitchen...

bec said...

Sounds like an amazing family day and a trip down memory lane!!! I didn't notice Ian on the roof til you pointed him out!! Then I LOL'd!!!! Too funny. It's true things look different when you revisit them years later, like how that cozy house would look smaller to you now than it did back then. As a Quebecor in the infamous Winter of '99, and a 'survivor' of the Ice Storm of Montreal, I can say T.O. really did make us laugh!!!

Thanks for sharing the memories and the details of an amazing day for the G-L-I-K's


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