Moving Around Toronto

Matt Elliott is looking for a new place to live. The City is looking for a new mayor. These things have a lot in common.

Sep 15

I still find it hard to believe that this is Toronto. But, look, in the distance, it’s the CN Tower.

(Riding on the Leslie Spit. I’m brave enough to bring my cell phone now. At first I was so convinced I would crash and tumble off over the handlebars in a spectacular display of flailing limbs. But I’m a little more confident now.)


Sep 8

The Secret History of Ashby Place

We live on Ashby Place in Toronto. This is no secret. I suppose broadcasting my location over the internet is a bad idea, in a kind of 1998 episode-of-Maury-Povich sort of way, but whatever. It’s done. It’s out there. There aren’t a lot of streets in Toronto that look like ours, so being enigmatic serves no purpose.

Besides, I’m a pretty tough guy these days. I ride a bike and everything.

Regardless, one of the cool things about living on such a distinctive street is that it’s actually possible to learn a lot about the history of the place just through Google, Flickr, the Toronto Archives, and other such sources. 

For example, here’s a picture of our street from 1988:

Ashby Place - April 17, 1988

Cool, right? It’s crazy to see how much has changed. That building on the left? Gone now. Replaced with town houses that sell for almost a million dollars. 

This next photo shows the old building in all its (sort) of glory. I can’t tell if it was residential or commercial. Also: on the right, you can see part of the sign for the Kingsbrae restaurant. It’s closed now, though it was open as recently as 2008 and it looks like there’s some sort of renovation going on inside - hopefully something will happen soon:

Ashby Place - April 17, 1988

Here’s another angle of the street:

Ashby Place - April 17, 1988

That station wagon is kind of awesome, isn’t it? It’s like twelve feet long. I bet it handled great.

The crazy thing is that there’s another shot of the street from TOBuilt (the database of Toronto buildings that reveals these houses were finished in ~1890), that shows what I think is the exact same boat-like station wagon, several years later:

The license plate is the same, anyway. 

Other cool/small/weird/interesting stuff:

Artist Jennifer Harrison has painted the street:

At some point, a house on the street seemed to be selling filters for movie cameras via ads in cinema magazines. (Can’t figure out the date on this - 70s?)

In the same vein, a dude with the awesome name of Bart St. John-Smith once lived in 11 Ashby Place, worked as a geophysicist and wrote this paper about a couple of lakes in Ontario. 

It’s a weird rabbit hole to vanish down, this whole history-of-street thing. The night I first found this stuff I stayed up way too late trawling through page after page looking for more interesting (or weird) details. And that was before we were even living in the house. Now that it’s ours, there’s sort of an enormity to it all - like maybe in thirty years some young first time home buyer will find this blog and, like the geophysicist, the guy selling camera equipment and the dude who owned a station wagon twice as long as his house was wide, I’ll be a small but neat part of history too.


Aug 22

The Back-at-Work Weekend

After a couple of weeks of taking it a little bit more slowly - necessary after the flurry of wackness and progress that was the last two weeks of July - we got back on the Home Improvement plan this weekend.

We went to IKEA. I feel like I have been to IKEA a million times this summer. Going to IKEA always seems like a great idea until you actually get there. That’s especially true on a Saturday when apparently people just go to IKEA for the thrill of it all, wandering about the displays and eating swedish meatballs and whatever the hell else. They get in the way.

Anyway, we got these curtains for our bedroom. And that wall mirror. I was absolutely convinced it would not fit into my car. It did.

Another angle. I need to do something about those wires. By which I mean I need to buy something that is exactly big enough to hide all the wires.

And another shot of the cool vintage Marvel comic book covers we have in our bedroom. My favourite is the Captain America one because in it he is punching Hitler in the face. Inspiring.

Not from IKEA (obviously), but Erin picked up four Sarah Bradbury original paintings to hang in the kitchen. They look pretty great, and I love the idea that we own original art. We’re like adults or something.

Also from IKEA, we picked up this useful bathroom cabinet thing which adds some good storage without taking up much space. Also of note: Our bathroom floors which are kind of ugly. Also also of note: We now have hooks on the back of the bathroom doors, which are handy for hanging, say, a pink bathrobe. Which is not mine!

I also organized my desk a whole lot better (pictures forthcoming) and fixed the towel rack in the basement bathroom. Also the chair from Leon’s was delivered last week, but I hated how big it was and how much room it took up. So much so that I became delirious with rage and got Leon’s to agree to come and take it back to the store. So you won’t see any pictures of that! We’ll find a better chair later.

Still to do: Need a new dryer! The current one coughs and hacks and longs for its prime in the Disco era. Need an electrician! He will come and give us more power outlets and things. Need a couch for the basement! Something comfortable that can maybe break apart into pieces and then forge back together like the bad guy in Terminator 2. Need some patio furniture! But no one sells any in August. Need some wine! Oh no wait we’ve got lots of that.

More later.


Aug 18
Quick cycling update: Look at this route. Look at it. It’s crazy. 18.76 kilometres of crazy. Who even knew that Toronto has some crazy park that extends out into the middle of Lake Ontario? There are a lot of mosquitos out there.
I’m kind of proud of myself that I went from basically being a sedentary dude whose bike hadn’t seen the light of day for three years to cycling this whole route. And I did it all in just over a week. Sure, I’m still routinely passed by old shirtless men, but it’s a start.
Biking is fun. You should try it.

Quick cycling update: Look at this route. Look at it. It’s crazy. 18.76 kilometres of crazy. Who even knew that Toronto has some crazy park that extends out into the middle of Lake Ontario? There are a lot of mosquitos out there.

I’m kind of proud of myself that I went from basically being a sedentary dude whose bike hadn’t seen the light of day for three years to cycling this whole route. And I did it all in just over a week. Sure, I’m still routinely passed by old shirtless men, but it’s a start.

Biking is fun. You should try it.


Aug 16

Before v After

Finally! The camera has returned home and with it come photos of all this stuff. Check this out. I don’t want to brag or exaggerate but below represents probably the greatest achievement in human history.

Before you scroll down, you might want to go back and read this post where, about a month ago today, I posted the first pictures of our house and made a joke wherein I pretended that I didn’t know what a washing machine was.

Kitchen Before After

The kitchen! It was always shiny and steely, but now it shines even more thanks to our brand new stove which makes great chicken fingers. The microwave I bought ended up on top of the fridge because we need the counter space. It works well up there for us because we are very tall. Short people who enjoy microwavable food might find it challenging. But they were never really welcome in our home to begin with.

Main Floor

Main floor - that little purple thing in the foreground is a cat toy.  The curtains across the back door are all pulled to one side which I realize looks kind of untidy so I fixed it right after I took this photo.

We kicked the grungy-looking dude sitting on the stairs out of the house before we painted it.

Living Room

See? I fixed the curtains. You can see copies of Erin’s book on the coffee table. Buy it and help us pay for material goods.

Laying out this room was a challenge because we wanted it to have comfortable seating but also enough room for a table. I think we found a nice balance.

Living Room 2

Back the other way - after our never-ending couch fiasco at Leon’s, we ended up with this loveseat (and a matching chair, to be delivered on Wednesday) which I think works well in the room. Very comfortable, too.

Downstairs

Let’s go downstairs! Again.

Those blue couches aren’t the most comfortable things in the world, but they work well down here. We’d like to eventually buy some sort of modular sectional couch thing, that can get down the stairs in bite-sized pieces.

This picture makes it look like I have a comically over-sized television, but I don’t. Well, maybe I do, kind of. Shut up.

Downstairs Bathroom

The downstairs bathroom turned out pretty well though apparently everyone who uses it has to sit down to pee. 

I stole that joke from my dad.

The back room in the basement is still chaotic. It’s also where I keep the dehumidifier.

Laundry Room

The laundry room: largely unchanged, but blurier.

Upstairs

Back on the main floor now, let’s go upstairs. (We totally broke that light fixture at the top of the stairs when we moved furniture in, so we need to get a new one.) 

Also: the cat always sleeps here. You can see his ear and head at the top of the stairs. We’ve learned that cats love carpet more than anything. Want to make a cat angry? Install hardwood floors. Ruins their lives.

Bedroom 1

The bedroom! The mirrored wall, as mentioned, died a quick death after being shattered with a hammer. We also lost the curtains for this window so we need to find some new ones.

Bedroom 2

Also dying a quick death in this room was the oversized monster closet. The extra storage was nice, but this thing was really badly built and took up a ton of extra space. We replaced it with a lame IKEA wardrobe and dresser for the moment. 

Also pictured: our cool comic book cover art thing. 

Upstairs bathroom

The upstairs bathroom has been completely de-pinked. That the old dresser we had fit perfectly into that corner was a nice surprise.

Office 1

The office! The pillow-covered futon is a good place to sit and think while working.

Office 2

This before-and-after doesn’t really line up at all, but what the hell. Creative license. This is where I am typing this! I still need to spend some more time organizing all the cables and external hard drives and hubs and flux capacitors and whatever else I got behind this computer. In due time.

Backyard

And, lastly, the backyard. Which is still very much a work-in-progress because, apparently, it’s impossible to find good patio furniture in August. We’ve done a lot of looking but no dice. What a shame.

The Muskoka chairs are nice, though. I put one of them together all by myself. Just like the pioneers did. With an electric drill and a lot of profanity.


Aug 4
Quick house update: Couch arrived from Leon’s today. Delivery guys were unable to get it down the stairs. I curse these stairs and their entire history from construction to now. Everyone who used these stairs is, in my opinion, worthless. They bring nothing but suffering.
We went back to Leon’s and swapped the couch and chair we ordered for another model. I think at this point we’re going to move the small blue couch/love seat we have to the basement (because we know they’ll fit) and put the new stuff upstairs in the living room. And then save up our money for some sort of kick-ass modular sectional that can be broken up into pieces and reassembled. 
That’s the dream, anyway.
The point of this post, REALLY, though, is that I went on a bike ride today. This is an incredibly momentous occasion. The kind of thing that should inspire people. Above is the route I took. In essence: I went down Cherry Street to Cherry Beach, then followed the waterfront trail to Leslie Street, then up past Lakeshore to Eastern, then along Eastern to home, with a little bit of a jog up to Queen so I could take the Queen Street bridge across the Don Valley.
Some notes on this:
(1): On Cherry Street, across the Keating Channel, there’s a draw bridge with a “cyclists, dismount to cross bridge” sign. I was the only person who obeyed this sign. I’m such a nerd.
(2): The T&T Asian Supermarket a little bit further south on Cherry Street is like a mirage. It makes no sense for an Asian Supermarket to exist here, but it does. And it is busy as hell, even on a Wednesday evening.
(3): At the beach, I stopped for a second and rested. Nearby, a very well-dressed model-looking woman lounged on a rock eating Chinese food. She talked loudly on her cell phone about how bored she is with her life. Um, sympathy?
(4): At many points along the waterfront (“Martin Goodman”) trail, I was passed by dudes in spandex riding bikes at crazy breakneck speeds. At one point I was passed by two dudes on what I think were cross-country skis with wheels. Is that a real thing? Do people actually do this?
(5): At Leslie & Lakeshore, which is one of the most suburban-looking parts of downtown(ish) Toronto in the sense that it has two drive-thrus across from one another, I cut through the Price Chopper parking lot and had to avoid a bunch of old people pushing carts.
(6): Eastern Avenue is almost post-apocalyptic. No wonder they put a prison here.  Good bike lane, though.
(7) When I made the switch up to Queen to take the bridge, I rode past the Opera House where a bunch of dudes in black-on-black-on-black were lined up to see what I later learned was the Toronto stop on the SUMMER SLAUGHTER TOUR.  
(8) I was very tired when I got home.
But overall, a success. I’ll try a different route tomorrow.

Quick house update: Couch arrived from Leon’s today. Delivery guys were unable to get it down the stairs. I curse these stairs and their entire history from construction to now. Everyone who used these stairs is, in my opinion, worthless. They bring nothing but suffering.

We went back to Leon’s and swapped the couch and chair we ordered for another model. I think at this point we’re going to move the small blue couch/love seat we have to the basement (because we know they’ll fit) and put the new stuff upstairs in the living room. And then save up our money for some sort of kick-ass modular sectional that can be broken up into pieces and reassembled. 

That’s the dream, anyway.

The point of this post, REALLY, though, is that I went on a bike ride today. This is an incredibly momentous occasion. The kind of thing that should inspire people. Above is the route I took. In essence: I went down Cherry Street to Cherry Beach, then followed the waterfront trail to Leslie Street, then up past Lakeshore to Eastern, then along Eastern to home, with a little bit of a jog up to Queen so I could take the Queen Street bridge across the Don Valley.

Some notes on this:

(1): On Cherry Street, across the Keating Channel, there’s a draw bridge with a “cyclists, dismount to cross bridge” sign. I was the only person who obeyed this sign. I’m such a nerd.

(2): The T&T Asian Supermarket a little bit further south on Cherry Street is like a mirage. It makes no sense for an Asian Supermarket to exist here, but it does. And it is busy as hell, even on a Wednesday evening.

(3): At the beach, I stopped for a second and rested. Nearby, a very well-dressed model-looking woman lounged on a rock eating Chinese food. She talked loudly on her cell phone about how bored she is with her life. Um, sympathy?

(4): At many points along the waterfront (“Martin Goodman”) trail, I was passed by dudes in spandex riding bikes at crazy breakneck speeds. At one point I was passed by two dudes on what I think were cross-country skis with wheels. Is that a real thing? Do people actually do this?

(5): At Leslie & Lakeshore, which is one of the most suburban-looking parts of downtown(ish) Toronto in the sense that it has two drive-thrus across from one another, I cut through the Price Chopper parking lot and had to avoid a bunch of old people pushing carts.

(6): Eastern Avenue is almost post-apocalyptic. No wonder they put a prison here.  Good bike lane, though.

(7) When I made the switch up to Queen to take the bridge, I rode past the Opera House where a bunch of dudes in black-on-black-on-black were lined up to see what I later learned was the Toronto stop on the SUMMER SLAUGHTER TOUR.  

(8) I was very tired when I got home.

But overall, a success. I’ll try a different route tomorrow.


Aug 3
Crazy few days. I think after the painting and the moving and the whatever we just kind of needed to hit pause for a few days and take it easy. Plus I got a wicked cold which knocked me out of commission for a couple of days. Hot humid summers are absolutely the worst time to get a cold.
I’m better now. But Erin’s got what I had, so she’s sick. Trade-offs.
The house is taking shape, though slower than we’d like. The couch (and matching chair) that wouldn’t fit downstairs were sold today, so at least we’re no longer living in a cushy wonderland filled with too many places to sit. New couch - that we’re all hoping and praying will fit downstairs - arrives tomorrow.
So far, though, I’m loving the kitchen. Loving the hell out of the kitchen. Look at this kitchen. It’s got everything you could ever need. The only downside is that stainless steel fridges are not, in fact, magnetic. Which is incredibly bad news for all Erin’s alphabet magnets.

Crazy few days. I think after the painting and the moving and the whatever we just kind of needed to hit pause for a few days and take it easy. Plus I got a wicked cold which knocked me out of commission for a couple of days. Hot humid summers are absolutely the worst time to get a cold.

I’m better now. But Erin’s got what I had, so she’s sick. Trade-offs.

The house is taking shape, though slower than we’d like. The couch (and matching chair) that wouldn’t fit downstairs were sold today, so at least we’re no longer living in a cushy wonderland filled with too many places to sit. New couch - that we’re all hoping and praying will fit downstairs - arrives tomorrow.

So far, though, I’m loving the kitchen. Loving the hell out of the kitchen. Look at this kitchen. It’s got everything you could ever need. The only downside is that stainless steel fridges are not, in fact, magnetic. Which is incredibly bad news for all Erin’s alphabet magnets.


Jul 28
The cats are adjusting. Here’s a quick picture of the office, which is the closest room to complete. Everything else is still a bit of a mess, especially the living room which features the giant brown couch that wouldn’t fit in the basement sitting smack dab in the middle of it. Gone soon - we bought a new love seat and chair today. Hopefully they’ll fit down the stairs!
Tomorrow: Work! And then a continuation of the never-ending gauntlet that is sorting through boxes. Why do I have all this stuff? Where did it come from? Today I found - no lie - an inflatable punching bag shaped like a clown. Sure glad I’ve kept that around for almost a decade. 

The cats are adjusting. Here’s a quick picture of the office, which is the closest room to complete. Everything else is still a bit of a mess, especially the living room which features the giant brown couch that wouldn’t fit in the basement sitting smack dab in the middle of it. Gone soon - we bought a new love seat and chair today. Hopefully they’ll fit down the stairs!

Tomorrow: Work! And then a continuation of the never-ending gauntlet that is sorting through boxes. Why do I have all this stuff? Where did it come from? Today I found - no lie - an inflatable punching bag shaped like a clown. Sure glad I’ve kept that around for almost a decade. 


Jul 27

Out with the old, in with the new

Today we said goodbye to this:

(Oh, Owl - I’ll miss you most of all.)

(Look at all those garbage bags. We had to make two separate runs to the dump today. I’m becoming an expert on going to the dump. I know all the ins and outs. When I pull up, the guys at the gate just nod at me and wave me through. We’ve bonded.)

And hello to this:

Still lots of chaos all over, but it’s coming together. I’ll have the SLR charger back tomorrow, so I’ll take some much better pictures. We’ll do a before/after thing.

Moving was fast and effective. My brother Chris is like the Einstein of Furniture Moving. He does calculations in his head in seconds. It’s like high-level physics-type stuff. Pivot here, Lift here, etc, etc. Meanwhile I’m standing off to the side shrugging my shoulders, waiting around, and tripping over steps.

Challenges today include finding out officially that our big comfy couch will not fit down the stairs to the basement. We sort of thought that it might not happen, but it still kind of sucks. We’ll likely try to list it on craigslist now and buy a smaller “condo-sized” piece to replace it. It’s an unexpected hit to the budget, but hopefully it won’t be too bad.

Also a challenge is the fact that our cats have literally had the worst day of their lives and will probably resent us for weeks. I’m very very sorry, cats. I hope you can forgive me.

It’s weird to be sitting in the office writing this post. This is our house. I have to keep repeating that to myself. This is our house. This is our house. This is our house. 

Crazy.


Jul 26
Last night at the apartment. The place is mostly empty. Feels weird and alien. The house is packed to the gills with stuff on top of stuff at this point. I have no idea how we accumulated so much stuff. And how it all fit into this apartment. 
Generally exhausted. Moving takes a huge toll. So so happy that tomorrow we’ll be home.

Last night at the apartment. The place is mostly empty. Feels weird and alien. The house is packed to the gills with stuff on top of stuff at this point. I have no idea how we accumulated so much stuff. And how it all fit into this apartment. 

Generally exhausted. Moving takes a huge toll. So so happy that tomorrow we’ll be home.


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