Friday, July 03, 2015

the week we went all over Toronto;

For the sake of Christine's work, we were the entire last week in Toronto, which meant Rose and I wandering for the sake of wandering, and visiting as many people as possible, from our hotel on Jarvis, right across from Allen Gardens. We drove in on Sunday, and starting Monday, Christine would disappear every morning just before 9am. Our days usually involved leaving the hotel first thing, ending up back around noon for lunch and nap, and out again by 2pm for another few hours (which meant we were most often crashed by 5pm). We were in visiting mode: a variety of folk I had been wanting to see for some time, all of whom I would have pre-baby not gone to see for the sake of work. Work! Work! Work! It gets in the way, sometimes.

Before this trip, all I'd known of Allen Gardens before this was from Lynn Crosbie, the poem "Alphabet City" from her selected poems, Queen Rat (Anansi, 1998), that includes:

We walked to Allan Gardens, and disagreed some more. Daniel's writing
is economical and pure, I said. I thought he gave up after writing poetry,
he said. He said some other things, and I didn’t see him again. I did not tell
him that the last time I saw Daniel he told me he had spoken in his sleep.
He said: I hate lyrical poetry:
Monday, June 22, 2015: We began our day heading east on the Dundas Streetcar towards the Danforth area, visiting poet Hoa Nguyen over at the house she shares with Dale Smith and their two sons. She made us smoothies (which Rose refused to touch), and I envied their garden. Apparently they were hosting a reading on Friday night in their living room, but there was no way we could make it (Christine and I read there moons back, when we were just pregnant enough to know, but not enough to start admitting). We gossiped about more than a couple of folk (including a particularly cranky American poet we both know), and Rose tore her way through much of the house (discovering some toys in one of the upstairs bedrooms). We talked about poems, and the speed one begins to write once the distraction of children appear. Everything takes so much longer to attempt, if at all. We spoke of the workshops she's been doing lately, both in person and online (check her website for information; they are pretty cool).

In both directions, the streetcar showed us a part of the city I hadn't really known about (including a very cool train station on Dundas East converted into bicycle rental), and Rose fell asleep on the ride home (see photo of such, above).

The afternoon included some time across the street from our hotel (where I discovered both playground, and the fact that we were at Allen Gardens). Rose took some time to chase some of the pigeons before allowing herself to enjoy the small playground. Brand new, it would seem, the playground, and even labelled for children from 2 to 6; impressive! The sky was clear marble blue. From Gardens, we made our way north to visit father-in-law, way up at Yonge and Shepard, where Christine met us for dinner.

And what was that industrial building behind the swings? Intrigued; wish I'd time to better explore.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015: We spent our morning at the offices of the Literary Press Group and LitDistCo (who distribute our Chaudiere titles) visiting everyone there, who were kind enough to gift the wee lass a colouring book, a storybook and various other items. We were even able to see poet Chris Chambers in his offices right next door, as part of Magazines Canada. Did you know he finally has a new book of poetry?

Post-nap, our afternoon took us west to the home of Sharon Harris and Stephen Cain. I can't believe it has actually been five years since I helped move them into that house. Rose laughed and laughed, and Sharon presented her with a full plate of blueberries (I'm surprised Rose left any for them).

I asked Sharon about the two manuscripts she's been working on, and found out that Cain has a new book forthcoming with BookThug. Cain also mentioned that Allen Gardens houses (somewhere) a plaque for Milton Acorn, which we couldn't quite find (I should have attempted to look it up, but never managed to remember). After her first few minutes of hesitation, Rose began pulling on Cain to walk through the house, the back yard and a variety of other places, over and over and over. Hand, she says, reaching up.

On the way back, Rose and I caught some buskers in the Yonge/Bloor subway playing a variety of music (she responds very much to music), including an accordian player who noticed her watching, and switched to performing some kids songs. Lovely!

In the hotel, Rose doing laps around the room even as late as 10pm. Our lack of usual routine on this trip has certainly worked to her advantage (if not ours). But oh, how she slept...

Wednesday, June 24, 2015: Our morning began, once again, at the playground at Allan Gardens before heading west once more for the sake of some book-purchase, and a lunch over at Future Bistro (the former Future Bakery) on Bloor West, right by Brunswick Avenue (see a post I wrote on such in 2010; and a poem composed there a year or so later). Impressively, she ate far more of the fruit than the home-fries. I've been going to Futures for twenty years now, as my usual go-to spot to spend a couple of Toronto hours writing and what-not. I might not have been able to get any work done, but Rose did sign a birthday card for her Gran'pa McLennan, and a variety of postcards for others.

Oh, how I miss Book City on Bloor West.

Later in the day, finding out an Ottawa friend of mine was, at the same time, right across the street having a lunch meeting at the old By The Way Cafe. How random is that?

She was asleep, of course, before we returned to our hotel.

Our post-nap visit went a bit north, over to where the incredibly patient Lola Lemire Tostevin lives, spending some time visiting with her and her husband, who generously presented Rose with some animal masks and a big book of stories, along with some paper to colour on. I was able to hand over her contributor copies of Touch the Donkey #6 weeks before it releases (mid-July), as well as a mound of other items I've been working on lately.

I think Rose was more worked-up than normal, and even I was beginning to wear down from her tearing around, and guiding her husband out to the garden multiple times (much the way she led Stephen Cain around), and into their front room. Rose only calmed once she and Lola began colouring.

We spoke of writing and publishing, and the madness of industry. Literary publishing, I've decided, is like a bumblebee; it just shouldn't fly, and yet does. She has a collection of essays forthcoming with Teksteditions this fall, which everyone should keep an eye out for.

On the way back to the hotel, a brass band performing at the corner of College and Yonge Street. I was thinking that Rose must think Toronto is magical, given all the buskers and live music she's been aware of. We never wander into the places such is played back at home.

Thursday, June 25, 2015: We began, once more, by heading west, but this time along Queen Street by streetcar, for the sake of Type Books. We were a bit early, only to discover a park and playground just by, at Trinity Bellwoods. Unlike the one near our house, this park was packed full of kids and parents and running around. She ran up the structures and ran across, but turned around (as per usual) at the top of the slide, for the sake of climbing back down the steps (she hates slides, for some reason).

Afterwards, we stopped briefly at the Japanese paper place that Christine likes, and made it finally into Type, where we saw that Derek McCormack was working. Did you know he has a book out this fall with Semiotext(e)? Extremely cool. Rose admired the books and the typewriters and the multiple ramps throughout the store. I picked up a book for her (after she had pulled down about a dozen or so from the shelves). Best I didn't get anything for myself, really. Not that she gave me much chance to look.

We had lunch at College Square with a Tim Hortons card Christine had passed along. Since they hadn't highchairs there, I sat her in a chair like a big girl. Later, a woman with her teenaged daughter in tow complimented us on our comfort with her in a big chair, given how small she is. She was fine. Much muffins were eaten (she won't eat the sandwiches).

Post-nap, we met up with Mark Goldstein right by our hotel (apparently he lives two blocks away, with bill bissett between us). We were nearly running late, so had to slip Rose into the ring sling while she still slept (after a two-hour nap). She woke in the hallway of our hotel, and wrote postcards at the coffeeshop while we waited. Given she was wiggly once he arrived, we return to Allen Gardens, where, of course, she immediately made friends with some kids on the bouncy-see-saw thing (of course). They were bouncing and laughing and letting go occasionally (wasn't sure what I thought of that). And the kids didn't mind; it actually gave Mark and I a chance to talk about various things, including poems, screenwriting and birth-mother stuff (he's been instrumental in talking me through some of my experiences over the past year or so). Did you know he's another book forthcoming with BookThug? Very nice. He is such good people (even though he's cat-allergic and can't come over to our house).

Friday, June 26, 2015: We checked out of the hotel, and Christine went for her last morning of work, and I headed off to see Jay and Hazel MillAr, en route to father-in-law's house. Given we haven't a clue where our GPS disappeared to, I was amazed I managed to drive over without getting lost (there are parts of Toronto I know a bit, but mostly I've no idea), wandering the further-west of St Clair and Runnymede. Hazel made muffins and Rose was barely contained, managing to run and run and eat and run. And they were kind enough to pass along a BookThug totebag! We spoke of poems and pianos, and children and baking.

After, we drove up to father-in-law's house, where she slept and she slept, and waited for Christine to return. We were a night there, before heading off to Woodstock, Ontario for some further adventures...

No comments: