Toronto, 2001

My friend Axel was having a birthday party, and since I'd found out that I was only working half time for the next two months until they laid me off officially, I decided to pop up to Toronto and surprise him. I grabbed an Air Canada Websaver special from Boston, buying it via the net on Wednesday morning, and headed out Thursday afternoon.

Thur Jun 14

I went out to Man Ray last night, stopping for a lemonade at Hi Fi before grabbing a taxi home, which ended up being stupid since I had a 10:30am meeting this morning. I managed to drag myself out of bed at 8:30am, packed the last few things into my back pack, and walked over to Star Market, to pick up a box of Sponge Bob Cheese Nips for Trevor. I caught the bus from there to Mount Auburn Hospital, getting off there and taking a cab the rest of the way to work. Managed to stay awake through the Hamilton-Lilly meeting, talked about the software aspect of the project with Steve M. and the vision hardware with Henry, and then the latter gave me a ride to the Porter T stop so I could take the red line to the green line to the blue line to the airport shuttle bus to terminal E. There was a short check in line, no hassle at security. I was there by 2:15 or so, for my 3:30 flight. I wandered around the stores near the gate for a bit, considered buying a book but held off. We boarded just past 3pm. I had a snack on the plane (my veggie meal preference got me a cheese sandwich this time), and read the airline magazine, mostly about Formula 1 race cars and how that technology first migrated into passenger cars, but now the association has decided to reduce the gadgets allowed to drivers. I watched the English and French news as well, to get a sense of what was going on in the world. Bush is getting scarier and scarier.

We ended up landing 15 mins early, but had to wait for our gate to clear. I breezed through customs and immigration, and Steph and Martin were waiting for me. We drove out to the Beaches on secondary roads to avoid rush hour traffic. I helped chop up organic veggies for the stir fry Steph made us for dinner. We walked down to the Nutty Chocolatier and I was in heaven. They even had Jamaican rum raisin chocolate bars, but I was strong and limited myself to the ice cream we went for - cherry cheesecake with graham bits in it. Mmmmm. We ate our cones while walking down to the beach and across on the board walk, dodging cavorting kids and teens, and little puff ball dogs. We turned up Woodbine and walked back to their place. I relaxed on the living room futon while Martin hacked and Steph changed for our night out - plans were to go out to the pub, Betty's, for drinks with Ray and Liz, and possibly Etienne and Lee, at 10pm and then head over to Velvet. We made it downtown at 11, but Liz and Ray were still there, the other two never showed. Steph and I each ordered a half pint of Strongbow, but the waitress brought us beer by mistake, as we figured out after one sip. She corrected the error and we went on to a pleasant evening from there. It turned out that I'd been there before, since I recognised the posters on the downstairs walls. It had been called the Betty Ford Clinic, until they received a cease and desist order and changed the name to just Betty's. We decided to skip Velvet on reasons of tiredness, and Martin was still coughy despite having a couple of blueberry teas - amaretto, grand marnier, an orange slice, and black tea in a snifter. As we were leaving I asked Liz and Ray to not mention to Axel that I was in town, and hoped that Lee wouldn't. Etienne was still in Montreal, Siobhan was to drive them back for Saturday's party. Martin drove us back and we all hit the sack at once.

Fri Jun 15

I woke up at 10am to Martin coughing, and eventually got up and dosed myself for my allergies (four cats in the house made it a necessity). I made a mushroom and cheese ommlette and toast that we all shared for breakfast. I changed and caught up on my journal entries, Martin headed out for his lunch meeting, and Steph worked on reviewing material for her interview on Monday. I headed out downtown with the aim of picking up a present for Axel at the World's Biggest Bookstore near the Eaton Centre, hitting Bakka for a few presents for myself, and then going to the ROM after it was free at 4:30. Left at noon, with hat and sunblock in place.

Found out that the TTC costs $2.25 cash now, but tokens are still reasonable. Took the Queen street car over to Yonge St and walked north. I stopped in at the World's Biggest and browsed amoung all the sale offerings. Found a somewhat dinged up copy of Mallory's Morte d'Arthur and snapped it up. While sort of half heartedly looking for a kids book I remembered Flor showing me once, I stumbled across a book for older kids, the first in the series being called A Bad Beginning. The trials of the Baudelaire orphans drew me in when I started paging through it, so I added it to my pile. I found the book I wanted to get Axel, but realised that it should be available at Bakka, so I put off buying it until later in the day. The heat started getting to me so I picked up a drink at the Croissant Tree. I think I almost ran into Stephan around Wellesly, but neither of us was sure enough to actually stop and verify. I browsed in Northbound Leather a bit, but managed to get out of there without buying anything. I dropped into Bakka and was disappointed in my quest, the book I wanted to get for Axel had sold out, as well as another one I wanted for myself. I picked up (finally) the paperback that finished Guy Gavriel Kay's latest series and a book that continued the Dracula tale from the point of view of Quincy Morris. I found out that one of my favourite authors was doing a signing the next day, and resolved to come back and have her sign one of her books that I didn't have. I popped into a boot store, and found that I *still* don't fit into the boots that I want - mismatched foot versus calf sizes. *sigh* The other style I liked didn't go below a size 7 men's, so I wandered out again. By that time I was getting a bit hungry, so I stopped in at Natural Sushi and had a quick meal - cheap and mediocre sushi, but it was fast and I could sit out of the sun and read one of my new books. I was tempted by the Sleepy Hollow and Nightmare Before Xmas posters in the Hollywood poster store, but resisted.

I continued walking up Yonge until I reached Bloor St. and turned west there, gaining the sun in my eyes. It was muggy hot all day, so I stopped again in Borders to browse some more. Finally made it to the ROM, where it was Greek night. I heard some of the music from the entry hall, but concentrated my time on the floor one below main. There was an exhibit called the Final Sleep, made up of lots of white artefacts - albino research skins, and skulls, and even some clothes. I went through the Canadiana exhibit as well. The wine lovers exhibit didn't open until the next day, unfortunately.

I was tired by this time and decided to head back out the the Beaches, jumping on the subway at the Museum station. Rode the streetcar out to Woodbine, grating my teeth at the whining and arguing of a very vocal young family, and grabbed a couple of slices of pizza for supper. I popped in the tape of Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and relaxed on the futon while watching it. I finally figured out that Sting was playing the main character's dad, no wonder he looked so familiar, though he'd filled out a bit since his Dune days. I took a long cool bath and then headed out to Savage Garden for the evening, leaving a note for Steph and Martin, who had alternate plans. I almost gave up waiting for the street car, but had no luck trying to find a bank machine to get cab money.

I took the street car all the way over to Bathurst and didn't have to show my id since Bruce was on the door. Talked to Dylan for a while, and Shannon ended up being back from SF with Ben/Synthetik for a wedding. Said hi to Jeremy on the dance floor, but didn't really have the energy to stay on it very long after all the walking I did. The smoke levels were very high and eventually my lungs started to protest violently. I dashed outside and cleared them out, then decided to pop into the Bovine to see if Lee or anyone else was there. It was crowded, but less oppressively smoky. I found Klaus and talked with him a while, then decided to take off. I walked up to Spadina to use the TD bank machine for cab money, but then of course the street car pulled up so I ended up riding it back home. Steph and Martin were back but sleeping when I slipped in, and I went right to bed.

Sat Jun 16

I woke to rain coming down outside, and a shattered glass on the floor. One of the cats or the wind had knocked it off. I took an allergy pill, put the glass in a box and went back to bed. I half heard someone go out - it turned out that Steph didn't want to wake me to go to yoga with her, so I got a few more hours of sleep. I finally woke for good when Slinky started nibbling on my eyelashes, and I opened my eyes to see a black furry face inches from mine. I gave a fair sized shriek that brought Martin running, and was abruptly wide awake. I calmed down a bit and had some cereal, then read for bit. Steph came back at 2:30 or so, and we all went out at 4 to head over to Yonge St. We went to Bakka first and I had Tanya Huff sign the first in her Seeker's series for me. We hustled down to the World's Biggest, trying to keep within the parking time we'd bought, and I managed to find the copy of the book I wanted for Axel. We all stopped in at Papaya Hut for some frozen yoghurt and continued back up the the car, misjudging how far it was, and walking through some alleys parallel to Yonge first. We stopped at the liquor store on our way back and I grabbed a bottle of Scrumpy Cider. Back home, where both Steph and I wrapped our books in cheery yellow paper held closed by blue tape, and labelled with black cards. We got all ready and went out for sushi at Sakura Ichiban (?) near where Ray and Liz live, arriving at around 8:30 or so. We were pretty much the only people in there, so service was fast. Lots of extras with the meal, like seaweed salad and snacks. Huge pieces of fish graced the nigiri and we all stuffed ourselves. I indulged in a glass of plum wine that was quite tasty and started my buzz for the evening. I had called Dorothy to make sure that she was going to hit Axel's, and she assured me that she would be there. We stopped at a gas bar to get some pop and drove over to the Annex. Parking was hard to find, we ended up a fair hike down Harbord.

I was first up the walk and knocked on his door at around 10pm. The surprise was a success, his expression was priceless. :) It started off recognising me, then going through "she shouldn't be here" to speechlessness and then a big grin. The efforts to keep my presence a secret were well paid off. Trevor was the next person I saw, and I delivered the Cheese Nips to him. I found out that he had sent me an email that had been dropped in the sale of my ISP to Earthlink - of course it was one that I really needed to have gotten, but I smoothed things over and I think we're friends again. It turned out that the cider I'd bought was crap, so Lee let me have one of his Strongbow's, though I did it a half pint at a time over a period of time. After that was done, I switched to Stoli Vanil and OJ and ended up having three of them over the course of the evening. It was a fun night. :) Liz and Ray put a slide show up on Axel's computer of pictures from his last birthday party, complete with dueling Elvi. Dana had fun setting Martin's 151 proof rum on fire, flesh was bared and alcohol was drunk to excess. Siani and Matt were there, and Siani's platforms brought her to just taller than myself. She'd found the scooter shirt that I'd seen in NOLA and was wearing it. I spent some time talking with Siani and Dorothy, Jason and Moses. Monica showed up, much to my surprise, having cut short her x-country road trip, and she introduced me briefly to Shane. I found out that Siobhan had a second single room available in NYC for C7, and I told her I'd think about taking it. Sheryl and Greg were surprised to see me, they gave Axel a very cool pop up Elvis card. Charlotte and her new boyfriend were there was well - she had short blonde hair - with Chris/Grimm, but unfortunately I didn't get a chance to chat with him. Whenever I sat on the porch, mosquitos would swarm me, and I ended up making a paste for the bites to ease the itching. Apparently there are lots of options for those - I used baking soda and water and it worked fairly well. We ended up leaving with the dawn, at around 5am. I was amazed I'd lasted that long, but apparently the sushi had formed a good base for the drinking. We made plans to meet for lunch at Sneaky Dee's at around 3 the next day. We fell into bed at around 6am.

Sun Jun 17

I woke at 10am or so, drank more water and went back to sleep. Martin was at his computer, taking a business call. Steph woke me at 2:20, we all cleaned up and were on the road at 3:15. I stopped at the bank machine next to Sneaky's, and the walking contingent caught up with me there, Matt having to use the machine as well. I sat on the end of the table and was fairly quiet, until Martin spotted me being unobtrusive during a conversation about fixing up friends. I stayed right out of it though. I had my usual Concha Huervos and got an earl grey tea to perk me up. I managed to fit a very good piece of pecan pie into the crevices left by a large lunch. Steph and Martin headed home but I decided to hang out with Axel, Trevor and Siobhan for the afternoon, and meet up with them at Anarchist's Cocktail that night.

We swept through Axel's place and cleaned up the party detrius. I did most all of the dish washing, bowing out when the very breakable cocktail glasses were all that was left. Trevor did the floor over and over as we tracked mud over it. We adjourned to the living room to let the floor dry for good and shot the breeze. Etienne showed up around 6 or 7pm, fresh from a frustrating weekend in Montreal, ending in having to buy a first class train ticket to get back in time to DJ. We all ordered Thai food and ate at the kitchen table as Etienne DJ'd for us and paced. He panicked and called a cab at 9:40 to get to Anarchist's by opening at 10. Trevor bowed out to stay home and sleep, but the rest of us eventually walked up to Suspect Video to return a tape and then caught the subway at Bathurst and took it over to Landsdown. Siani was there already, but no one else showed up. Literally. I talked to Steve behind the bar for a bit, and danced a bit, mostly with the floor to myself. The others took off around midnight, pleading work and an impending trip, but I stayed until 1, hanging out in the DJ booth with Etienne. He introduced me to the owner of the club, and it turned out to be a former bouncer that I remembered from Catch 22. I focussed on getting on the subway before it stopped running, and ran out at 1:15 or so, not getting to hear Nick Cave's cover of Tower of Song. I caught the second to last car going eastbound, and then realised that I could have shared a cab with Etienne down to Queen and taken the all night car across. Rats. Ah well, it was a nice walk down Woodbine from the station to Steph and Martin's. No one was up, but the light was left on for me when I got there are 2am or so. Wrote up my journal for the past two days, and set my alarm for panic time of 1pm tomorrow, since I'd have to be out of the house by 1:40 to take public transit over to Pearson.

Mon Jun 18

I woke on my own at 11am or so. Steph was at her interview, Martin at his computer. I volunteered to make strawberry pancakes and Martin jumped at the offer. He washed up the pans and bowls that I needed for the recipe and I proceeded to experiment with whole wheat flour - you need to add either less flour than normal, or more liquid. Luckily I added more liquid, since Steph got back as I was finishing up. We three ate at the dining table. I took my time showering and packing, getting all the books and my clothes into my pack again. Martin went out before I was ready to go, having to mail a letter, but Steph and I talked for a bit until it was time for me to dash for the streetcar. I took it along Queen to the subway, and then that two stops south to Union. I hit a bank machine in the terminal, and then walked across to the Royal York just in time to catch the airport express bus - the charges went up, it's $14.25 one way now.

It dropped me at Terminal 2 at Pearson after stopping at one more hotel and then making it's way across the Gardiner/QEW to the 427. I went through the express check with my e-ticket, breezed through immigration, customs, and security, and was at the gate 2 hours before my flight. Picked up a turkey sandwich (with tons of turkey slices!), a fruit cup and some water, then dove into Kay's new book "Lord of Emperors", which I have to highly recommend. We boarded on time and had an uneventful flight to Boston, landing just a bit early. I took the T home, arriving to a note from Q saying he'd taken off for his trip and I was left with the responsibility of watering the plants. I managed to rescue the daisies that Monica gave me, just, and put some water in his plants as well. Fell into bed by midnight or so, feeling much better for the trip.

Back to my diary page.