It’s time to go explore our city again on a walk whose direction is determined entirely by chance. You might remember the last time I did this, walking from our house, into the ravine and in the process found out a bit more about Toronto’s history
Today I want to go somewhere that I haven’t spent much time and so I used my Google location history to create a heat map to show where I’ve been. Red areas I’ve spent lots of time, yellow and blue, less so, and some areas Google has never known me to go there.
As it turns out, I haven’t been in Corso Italia very often. It shows my having been there once or twice but not often. And so off I go – and this time Sage comes along to have fun with me.
A bus and a streetcar ride later we’re standing at the corner of Dufferin and St. Clair. There are lots of people on the corner where we get off so we find our way across the street where we can film a bit for Instagram – we will be creating stories as we go today.
Out comes our comically large foam die. We have four directions we can go in and we let the dice decide. The roll tells us to head south and so we go. The neighbourhood doesn’t seem to have gentrified too much. People are still able to make enough of a living with a simple cobbler’s shop to stay in the neighbourhood.
Within a couple of minutes I realize I’ve been to this particular spot on a library visit some time ago.
You can read about that visit here.
We think about going in but when we get to the door, two things stop us. The first is the fact that they’re closed on Sundays in the summer. The second thing is the sign that is posted on the door.
I look down and see a bunch of pigeon droppings in front of the door. Above the door we can just barely se the nest. I love that the library’s response to pigeons was to just decide to use a different door instead of destroying the nest as many folks would’ve done.
We walk just a bit further and get to a sign.
We’re not in the market for a house and doubtless we are unable to afford a house in this city. However, we’re curious – curious enough to break our own rules. We leave the die in our bag and turn down a small residential street.
As we walk I wonder if maybe this will work out in some way that overcomes our aversion to buying a home and being tied down. Maybe we’ll fall in love with the house that we see just randomly. What a great story that would be!
The houses in this neighbourhood are older homes – I’d guess in the 70-150 year old range – built in a time when families were larger, either with extended families living together or more children per family. Mercedes and BMWs seem to be common here and In one yard I see an Audi R8 sports car parked – a car that starts at $188,000 – the equivalent of about nine years of our rent. The cobbler may be able to afford a shop on the street but he’s likely going to have to live a long ways from here.
We pass a school where a father and his teenage son are playing one on one basketball. There’s a bit of graffiti outside the school – most of it seems to be related to animal rights – an interesting change. Other graffiti offers some good advice:
A short distance from the graffiti I find notice something unusual:
It’s clearly a birdhouse but maybe there’s something more to it. I find a bit more information online. It is, indeed, a birdhouse but it’s been designed by a local artist. At one time it had a rain barrel on it that waters the nearby garden (I don’t see it today though). There’s a passive solar heater to heat water for an indoor birdbath and even a small computer to manage electricity from a solar panel. We see the periscope viewfinder at the bottom but there’s nothing to see at the moment. Apparently there’s another periscope installed so birds can see the humans below also. Very clever!
It takes us longer to walk to the house than we expect – I think most people going to these open houses are driving. Finally we get there. The house is quite large.
We take off our shoes and go in. The realtor is talking to an older couple. He tells us we can explore and ask questions later. This is good as I am just curious – I’ve never been to an open house and I don’t want him to get his hopes up that we’re going to buy it.
The house is immaculately staged. Everything is perfect. Just the right furniture is chosen and there are even beautiful linens in the linen closet.
All of this is meant to encourage people to see themselves in it and to make it a place one would aspire to live: immaculately clean and beautifully designed. For us, though, it has the opposite effect. This clearly was a beautiful house at one time but all of the character is gone. They have managed to take a unique house and make it look just like every house we see on television.
The house is much more than we need with four bedrooms and four bathrooms and around 2,500 square feet. But if that wasn’t enough, the pricetag of nearly $1.8 million is so far out of our price range it is simply unimaginable. A mortgage of that price could rent four two-bedroom apartments in our building.
We walk out the door and come to a north-south street and the dice direct us south and downhill. At the bottom we pick up some drinks – Sage gets a mineral water, I get a regular water. And my eyes are drawn to something I’ve never heard of: Blood Orange & Turmeric “drinking vinegar”. I am intrigued. I put this in my bag for later.
We’re clearly in a different sort of neighbourhood. The businesses are once again more down to earth – not in line with the million dollar home prices.
The dice lead us east and we continue until we come to a set of stairs leading in to the woods. We put the dice aside and go up the stairs.
The park is filled with families and groups of families having a good time. There are folks playing ball, having picnics, talking, and playing games. What I don’t see is anyone on a smart phone. They are too engaged in the world and enjoying the warm sunny day to wonder what’s happening on Facebook.
We sit down in the shade and enjoy the park. I make a few notes and Sage works on some sketches. Finally it is time to go. We make our way to the nearest street and get out the dice.
Going straight north will take us to new areas as will going to the right. Going off to the left will take us back down to the street we just were on so we choose between the two new directions. We’re told to go east and off we go. As soon as we get to a shady spot, though, I decide now is a good time to try the “Drinking vinegar”.
I crack it open. It smells a bit of orange and definitely of cider vinegar. The label says there is one and a half tablespoons in it.
I taste it and it is one of those flavours you can’t decide if you like or not. “Do I like this?” I try another sip. It reminds me of my childhood – it tastes just like I imagine the fizzy easter egg dye liquid (also made with vinegar) would taste if you tried them. I’m thirsty and guzzle the whole thing, giving Sage only a sip. (She’s more sure about her feelings about it: she doesn’t like it)
Our dice tell us to head north – back up to St. Clair. By the time I get up there I have a strong opinion of the drink. It tasted good but it was way too much acid to be drinking. My stomach is bubbling and very acidic. It reminds me of a day when I was probably 12 with a friend of mine. We started by making vinegar and baking soda volcanoes. Then we tried putting a spoon of baking soda in our mouths and adding vinegar and foaming at the mouth. Then I wondered what it might be like to drink some baking soda dissolved in water and chase it with more vinegar. Little did I know it would feel like drinking “drinking vinegar.” Not something I want to repeat even if I got several minutes of nostalgia for Easter and childhood mischief out of it.
The dice take us back west toward where we started. I think I need something to eat now – something to absorb all the acid. And soon we find it in a new-to-us Mexican restaurant: Tanoch. Even at 4 in the afternoon it is packed with people and loud music is playing. The menu is several pages long and fantastic. Sage orders chicken enchiladas and I go for second breakfast: chorizo (sausage) and eggs. We’re given chips and delicious salsa to eat while we wait – which isn’t long. Soon my eggs and chorizo are brought out on homemade corn tortillas with rice and refried beans with it. Sage’s plate has salad and refried beans along with several enchiladas. I have a taste and they are delicious.
With many things left to do before the end of the day, we end the day here. We had a fantastic time. We also really enjoyed sharing this in Instagram and Facebook stories – that you can see here. And of course you can follow me on Instagram if you’re on there as well, follow me here for my personal account or here for my Exploring Toronto by Library account. (Or both!)
Want to see exactly where we went? Here’s a map – click to see a bigger version.