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.
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:
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:
Here’s another angle of the street:
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.
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.
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.
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 - 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The laundry room: largely unchanged, but blurier.
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.
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.
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.
The upstairs bathroom has been completely de-pinked. That the old dresser we had fit perfectly into that corner was a nice surprise.
The office! The pillow-covered futon is a good place to sit and think while working.
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.
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.
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.