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Karen

This week in Hogtown

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Karen

Folks,

I am really concerned that I am the only one contributing to this thread. I do not want it to be mine alone and so wish all of you ( and there are many!) living in the GTA would give us a small glimpse into life in our great city and its areas. My life is actually very mundane and I am sure many of you have lots more to report of interest, so please, don't be shy here - write out your snippets and post your pictures. There will be so many out there who will enjoy what you have to report.

Thanks and I look forward to this being a thread of many contributors.

From a wonderful, warm day ( 23C) with lots of sunshine in York region, I wish you all, wherever you are, happy, fun summer days,

Karen

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jen1

We have my parents out from Durban for a 3 month visit (half way through their time with us already!)

Not done too much sight seeing this time as they have been here plenty of times before.

We went camping two weeks ago to a beautiful place nearer to Ottawa, called Bon Echo Provincial Park, my parents checked into a motel outside the park as they informed me they are at they age where they like their comforts and are done with camping. The campsite itself is on Lake Mazinaw...one of the deepest lakes in Ontario apparently. It has these huge cliffs that drop down into the lake on the far side that have old pictographs painted on them...you need to take a canoe to explore them and we did not have great weather so we will be going back there.

It seems like summer may finally be thinking of coming, I cant wait to put the kids pool up and for it to warm up enough, it seems like a really long spring this year!

We are planning a nice dinner out this week or next to Oakland Hall Inn up here in Aurora, they have a lobster fest on this month and are usually an excellent place for a meal (expensive tho!)

We are also going on another camping trip at the end of the month up to our favorite place, Tobermory, it is one of the most beautiful places around, one day I even hope to get to dive the wrecks up there (once the kids are old enough to look after themselves for a while).

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rockwooder

You should visit Bon Echo in autumn - stunning!

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jen1
You should visit Bon Echo in autumn - stunning!

Yep, I think that is when we are planning to go back there!

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Karen

Thank you so much, Jen and Echo. Please keep the posts rolling in here.

I like the idea of letting everyone know wonderful parks, campsites etc in Ontario folk can visit over the summer with their families. Always good to get first hand referrals to the 'must see' areas of our province.

York Region ( again!!)

I am very excited!

My long- term pen an now internet friend from Fort Myers, Florida is coming to visit me for a week from July 9-16. We have been friends since meeting on a plane in the States back in 1983 and have only seen one another once, briefly, in Florida, in 1998, since then.

So, now to start getting my house guest ready!! Everything is fine, except for the 32 year old bathroom she will be sharing with my daughter. The tub is old, pitted and stained, and no amount of cleaning gets it to look as it should any longer. The faucets ( taps) are ancient looking and the tiles, well, let's just say that don't match any of the other decor in the bathroom!!

With not much time in hand and not able to do a complete bathroom reno, we decided to call in a company who fit a liner over the tub, which includes a seemless acrylic wall, new fixtures and glass sliding doors. It is not cheap, but comes with a life - time warranty and looks really good. Later on, we will replace the ancient floor tiles, put in a new toilet and basin and paint and etc, but for now, this is a quick and effective solution, given that we have limited time and this is completed in 6 hours. I will take some before and after photos to share with you when it is all ready.

Anyone had this done, and if so, do let me know how it worked out for you and if you are satisfied with it all.

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rockwooder

Slightly hijacking your forum. Talking about your pen/internet friend. I'm also still in contact with a penfriend I've been writing to since 1973. I was still in primary school when you could write to a teenage magazine (TINA) in SA to get the name of a penfriend. I can still remember my first letter to her, my dad had to help with the English. Anyway, we've been through boyfriends, weddings, births of our children, death of a husband of hers. But this is something that I would change for anything in the world. It has enriched my life so much. We've met twice in California, and what a privilage it was to have met her husband that has since passed away. I've also met her parents (and whole family). Then a few years ago we as a family of 4 now visited her again. This time my daughter and her niece started to write to each other (for a while anyway). Internet is faster but I do miss that letter with the different stamp. Through the years I've had many other penfriends but they have always stopped to write. What I have paid on stamps all those years ago.

Just want to say I always love reading your mails about what is happening there in Toronto. Keep it up! And oh, yes enjoy the time with your penfriend.

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Karen

Thanik you so much, Rockwooder. You are most kind.

How wonderful that you have kept up with your special penfriend for so long! The power of the pen....

My friend has never been to Toronto, so I will be playing tour guide and will be sure to report back on all our adventures in Hogtown together. I am really looking forward to the week very much.

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Island Life

Karen, excuse my ignorance here. What / where is Hogtown? I've never heard of it.

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Karen

Hogtown is one of Toronto's nicknames!

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Karen

York Region

Summer has been a cooler affair than usual so far, but I am not complaining. I happen to love this more moderate and pleasant weather without the awful humidity. Long may it last!

So far, my break has been interesting.

I attended my first ever Pride Parade!! It was a fun experience and I was impressed with the behaviour of the over one million crowd and the vibe in the streets of Toronto. Some awesomely good bands played and although I battled to see the floats in the five row strong crowd, I enjoyed the colourful characters I watched around where I stood.

Next, I had a my pen friend of 26 years come and visit with us for a week - her first time ever in Toronto. How true that you have to live with someone to really get to know that person! Afer a hectic week of running all over the city, and hearing how much bigger, better and cheaper the US is, we were quite happy to send her off Stateside again!! I cannot fathom why when some folk come to another country to visit, they do not have the good sense to stop comparing it to back home and to just enjoy the experience for what it is.

I went to the ROM ( Royal Ontario Museum) and saw the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibition. It was incredible and so well laid out, Definitely worthwhile seeing. We must have spent at least 2/12 hours going through it all and watching the videos. My guest actually enjoyed Museum station and its interesting and colourful columns. Over the weekend, we visited St Jacobs, went to a Celtic concert on Main Street Unionville, went to the Bluffs, the Beach and had lunch on the Danforth, before driving home through Forest Hill and the Bridal Path. I think she saw a fair amount for a short stay here. We also visited and walked three malls, but she could not find anything she could not get far cheaper in the good ol' US. so took home nothing from our fair land.

At home, we are still trying to get the fence in the yard put up. Two contractors later, we are now waiting for the gas company to mark where the gas lines run, so that the new poles do not damage them and incur a $10 K fine. Our neighbour's house will be on show this weekend, so I spent a stressful day trying to get hold of the fence guy to come and erect some of that temporary orange fencing. The Town of Markham requires that properties with a pool have to always be fenced, as if a child drowns in your pool, you as the owner, are always liable. I could not take that risk, especially since kids seem to come to show houses with their parents. Anyway, finally, all is safe and sealed off.

It's just over a month until we leave for our Baltic cruise, so I got going on booking our two day tour of St Petersburg and applying for our visas. I am beginning to get really excited about this much anticipated trip!

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Karen

Well. here we are again in the final month of summer. Actually, some are wondering if summer really did arrive in the GTA this year or if it just bypassed us and left very pleasant Spring - like days lingering.

I hope more of you will start contributing to this thread. I am certain my mundane life must be boring most here, and it would be so good to hear from others.

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hanlie

Summer in Southern Ontario:

We also live in the suburbs, but we make the most of our proximity to lovely nature areas.

Last weekend we spent a gorgeous Sunday at Hilton Falls.

Follow the Appleby Line north, then turn left, 100m on the right.

It is a huge conservation area which includes a reservoir and a beautiful waterfall.

Our son just loved the lush forest, we took an 8km walk (of course carrying him most

of the way, he is 18 months. There is also a lovely picnic area.

Our next trip will be to Rattlesnake Point Conservation area, as soon as our

kiddie-carry-backpack arrives. This area of Ontario is just full of the most

glorious nature, as other members have written as well.

In the winter one can enjoy it by cross-country skiing or snow-shoes,

which we will buy now in the off-season to get a better deal!

Other areas include, Lowville park, Crawford Lake, Springridge Farm, the list goes on...

Get out there and enjoy!

PS: Karen your stories are anything but mundane!

hanlie

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Karen

Thank you so much for posting, Hanlie. I hope others will also take a leaf out of your book and do the same. It is the only way we can keep this thread current and ineresting to those who visit this site.

I will be leaving for my Baltic cruise on August 24 and will be back in time for school, so I will probably be rather scarce in here from now until I get home and have lots to tell you!

Right now, I am deciding what to take along clothes -wise, as I think we will be experiencing temps much like here, perhaps a bit warmer or cooler. So, layers will have to be the name of the game with a light windbreaker. I have to laugh when I see pics of Americans who have come back after this cruise, all togged up in puffy winter jackets when it was 19C! I can only guess that they are either Floridians or Califiornians, who seem to think they they also have to pack longjohns! It really is good being a Canadian - we really do understand what cold means!!

For those of you contemplating doing a cruise, I can highly recommend joining the site www.cruisecritic.com

Not only will you gain a wealth of valuable information pertaining to your ship and the ports of call, you will also be able to meet your fellow cruisers, arrange on board gatherings and team up for excursions. Thanks to this site, we have not booked ship excursions, which are always pricey, but have been able to find local companies offering the same or better, far cheaper, and which all come with stellar ratings from those who have been on them.

So, I have all my Russian visa requirements in hand, a list of do's and don'tswhen encountering immigration authorities in St Petersburg, and a hectic two day itinerary, which will have us running around for 12 hours each day! I can't wait! I never imagined that I would ever get to see any part of Mother Russia in my lifetime! Of course, I am also eagerly anticipating the other ports too. I will be sure to take tons of pics to share with all of you later.

Meantime, let's keep the Hogtown thread alive and well!!!

My fence is finally up, my neighbours sold their home above asking price in a bidding war, I have new eavestroughs on the entire house ( can't risk flooding again!) and if any of you need the name of a wonderful company to do this at a most reasonable cost, please let me know, and we also have a much nicer shower in our second bathroom. That's it for house maintenance for this year. Lots more to do next year, though....

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Tracey3511

Well, I guess I can contribute to this post occasionally, I think my life in Hogtown is fairly different from Karen's!

My partner and I work downtown in Toronto's gay village, which is an interesting place at any time of the day or night. The word 'diversity' takes on new meaning here. Not only do you find representatives of Toronto's famously diverse ethnic populations all over the place, you also see multiple disabled people at any given time, as well as many representatives of the city's LGBTTIQQ2S population (that's lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, intersex, queer, questioning and two-spirited).

In my daily job with Pride Toronto I get to meet many of them, and I'm regularly reminded of just how incredibly open and free this country is by meeting people who do things like actively challenging government on 'why they should be required by law to identify themselves as either male or female', or take authorities to task about not giving proper attention to a prostitute who gets beaten up when her client finds out 'she' is actually a 'he'. Here in the village, people live their lives in their own way, love openly who they wish, and accept each other for who they are and not what they think they should be.

Then there's the way people dress downtown. Forget all your preconceived ideas about what goes and what doesn't - here you are likely to see things you never thought possible. From girls in skimpy shorts with magenta hair on roller skates zipping in and out between the cars, to the elderly man on his disability scooter with three chihuahuas in the basket; from the boys who wait tables at Zelda's in speedo briefs with stuffed 'chestpieces' to Tranny Clause, an aging drag queen who wears make up over her beard.. Anything goes here, and the best part is no-one considers anyone to be out of the ordinary for it. Everyone gets equal respect and attention.

Then there's the bank. First, I have my bank manager as a Facebook friend - how about that? There are no glass teller windows in the bank downstairs, if the queue is too long I can pop into his office and he quickly handles my transaction. The unusually varied customer base is all on first name terms with him and bring their dogs in to meet him and get a treat from the jar on his desk, and in the tiny bank with its four cashier desks they speak - wait for it - 17 different languages! Walk into any shop and after the third visit they will ask who you are, where you are from and remember your name after that.

The village is about nine square city blocks, in the midst of this huge megacity, but for those that work and live here, it's a world on its own where everyone knows everyone, town meetings are held to share in the triumphs and problems of the area, and even the local businesses belong to an association in an effort to work together to help each other. A Vietnamese lady named Vinh owns the local barber shop, and when Pride needed some extra space during our busy period she opened up an apartment on the top floor of a building she owns and loaned it to us, free of charge, for as long as we needed it.

That's the spirit of downtown Toronto, as I've come to know it over the past six months. It's very far from SA, in many more ways than one!

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Karen

Great post, Tracey, and thank you so much for giving us a perspective of Toronto most of us living in the 'burbs are not even aware of. You have shown us what a wonderfully diverse and tolerant city Hogtown is, and it makes me proud to live here!

Please keep on adding your fascinating and interesting snippets of life whenever you get a chance.

Many thanks.

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Karen

Here I go again - my last post until I get back from my Baltic cruise:

Summer came in with a a blast - of hot , humid heat. It must have been 40C yesterday, and although many love this kind of weather, it is certainly not my cup of iced tea! Give me the moderate days of Spring or Fall any day. Hopefully, by the time I get home from Europe, I will be able to enjoy that kind of weather again.

I have been preparing for my trip and finding bargains to wear for my criuse formal nights. If you really are prepared to shop around, this is the best time to get quality clothing for up to 70% off the often already marked down price. So, I now have a few items which were marked $145 for $39.99. How wrong can one go with that?!! I have even managed, for a bit more, to find designer outfits by Simon Chang and Joseph Ribkoff, both based in Montreal, but internationally known. The fit, quality and styling are just so superior, and best of all, the Ribkoff items are all made in Canada, a rare treat these days, when everything else comes from China.

So, ladies, my advice is never to buy things at full price here, unless you absolutely have to, but to wait for the end of the season sales to get your classic items! One thing I could not find on sale, was a pair of good shoes. All the ones on sale in my size ( Can 6.5, which is SA 4.5), are all quickly sold out, so I found a very elegant pair of Anne Klein court shoes at the Bay. Despite being more than I intended to pay, and no mark downs, as they are new Fall stock, they are elegant and comfortable and best of all, not too high, so I can easily walk and stay balanced on them!!

Now, I can't wait to dress up for the formal nights on the ship and show them how well kitted out we are in Toronto!!!

Au' revoir mes amis - a bientot......

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Jean C

Thank you, Karen, for keeping the Hogtown post going.

You must have a wonderful trip and we look forward to reading about it on your return. Enjoy!

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Karen

Fall is here and long may it last!

I just love these crisp, sunny and clear days, but I also know that it won't be too long now before we are clearing snow from the driveway again.

Everything is now back in full swing, and the summer is becoming a wonderful distant memory, as the kids are now settled into their classes and all the talk is about the flu shots and the rising Loonie ( good for some, terrible for others). There has been a distinct shift from the feel of the summer months.

Our pool was drained and 'closed' on Oct 7, the leaves are everywhere, and Halloween artifacts are to be found wherever one looks. No more sandals and shorts and back to Fall shoes, socks and warmer jackets once again. I am back to making hearty soups and stews once more. This is the time to enjoy cosy meals with good friends.

With apologies to a famous SA poet, but I think October is the the nicest month!

Let's hear some of your Fall itineraries in the GTA, folks.

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tazz

So winter is back again. Drat! Yesterday was probably the first winter-like day in Toronto and you could tell by the sad and tired faces at the office that people were not happy about it. I loathe winter but like my life in this city so that's why I'm still here :ilikeit: Not wedded to it though, I'll move to British Columbia someday, somehow.

A while ago, on a sunny and warm Sunday afternoon, I went for a walk on Yonge street (at St. Clair). It was one of those beautiful and happy days that lured me to enjoy more. So I hopped on the subway and went to the Harbourfront. People were skating, even though it was like 14 C. I saw two very interesting things:

- a photo exhibit on the beauty of Northern Ontario right on the lakefront; one picture of a tropical looking island surrounded by blue clear waters and white sands stole my soul - have to get there one day

- cute goose/duck-like birds diving into the lake; it was awesome to see them go down deep and stay under for quite a while - surprisingly the waters were not murky and I could watch them brave the abyss

As usual, I forgot my camera at home and didn't get any pretty photos to show off.

Edited by tazz

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Karen

Dec 1/09

We awoke this morning to a light dusting of snow, which is just covering the rooftops, but for the most part, has already melted on the ground. To have reached December with just this light fall, is miraculous!! It will make the cold of winter that much more tolerable.

My snow tires were put onto my new SUV ( leased) last weekend, so just in time. I am absolutely loving driving around in my bright blue Tiguan. It's a fantastic vehicle to drive, and so much sturdier than my Honda CRV was, not to mention that I feel like I am floating on the road in it! I will have it for the next four years, and I already think it is the best!

The semester is winding down, and the Christmas holidays start on Dec 18. I can't wait for two weeks of being home and late sleep- ins! It's been a long haul at work, with no break since the beginning of September, so we need a recharge of those worn batteries! Our school is closed this Friday, as the heating system is faulty and we cannot all sit in there freezing any longer. Hopefully, it will all be sorted out before next Monday. In some classes, you feel you are in a sauna, and in others, you need your jacket, hat and gloves on all day! The building is just way too old to cope any longer.

Two weeks' back, we went to see the movie " The Education". I enjoyed it, but my hubby slept through most of it! It was just too slow moving for him, but I thought the fresh new acting talent was excellent. Next, our plan is to see " Invictus", which is opening here on December 11. I am sure the ex- pat community won't want to miss this one, even if only to hear how Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon have the SA accent down to pat!

So, that's all my news from Hogtown for now. If I do not get a chance for anymore soon, I wish you all a happy, healthy and safe holiday season, and may all your wishes come true in 2010.

Karen

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Karen

It's pretty cold out tonight and my driveway is a treacherous sheet of ice, but the holiday lights punctuating the whiteness of our landscape here in the GTA, makes this a special time of year for many Canadians. It seems a lifetime ago that my Decembers were green and hot and filled with swimming pools and braais and afternoon showers on the Highveld.

As I get older, I would be lying if I said I loved the weather, but strangely, I do not hate it either. All wrapped up in my leather gloves, well lined with four grams of thinsulate, my long down coat and my wool lined boots and jaunty scarf, I feel well protected against the elements as I drive in my wonderful little 4X4 with its seater warmer keeping my derriere in a state of toasty bliss!

So, tomorrow the schools break for two weeks. Time to sleep in a bit, to read a good book, to enjoy the sights and sounds of a mall pre Christmas and to eat lunch with friends in a cosy restaurant where the smells of freshly baked bread and hot soup waft through the air. No fighting traffic, no yellow school buses and no early morning rush in the dark for two glorious weeks of freedom!

The year is coming to an end, things are winding down and there is a sense of contentment right now about me. The winter holidays really are a good time of the the year!

Wherever you are spending the holiday season in our great land, I wish you health and happiness and may 2010 be a good year for everyone- and may all the Hogtowners here please start writing for this thread!!!

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OJoy

I remember when I was still back in South Africa and I saw those yellow buses in certain movies/TV shows. I thought they were really quaint and belonged to a bygone era.

Then when I came to Canada I found out that they actually still use them. :lol:

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Karen

January 4, 2010

Happy New Year everyone!

To say it is cold today, is an understatement. It's pretty frigid out there.

With the windchill,it is around minus 25C in our neck of the woods, a grey, bitterly cold day with light blowing snow.

Best to be indoors and stay warm, but life carries on, and there is much to be done out there, especially if the house needs to be filled with groceries!

School starts again tomorrow. No more late sleep- ins, alas! It should be a more seasonable minus 5C degrees tomorrow, but with snow showers, so the drive in to work, will be a messy one. Take it easy on the roads, those who have to venture out.

Only another three months of this, and then Spring will be just around the corner!!

We have to see the glass as half full, weather - wise, or else it could be quite depressing here- plus, we could be living in Nova Scotia or the other Maritime provinces, where things are far worse and with much more snow!

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PEIsteve

PEI is much warmer than hogtown today!

January 4, 2010

Happy New Year everyone!

To say it is cold today, is an understatement. It's pretty frigid out there.

With the windchill,it is around minus 25C in our neck of the woods, a grey, bitterly cold day with light blowing snow.

Best to be indoors and stay warm, but life carries on, and there is much to be done out there, especially if the house needs to be filled with groceries!

School starts again tomorrow. No more late sleep- ins, alas! It should be a more seasonable minus 5C degrees tomorrow, but with snow showers, so the drive in to work, will be a messy one. Take it easy on the roads, those who have to venture out.

Only another three months of this, and then Spring will be just around the corner!!

We have to see the glass as half full, weather - wise, or else it could be quite depressing here- plus, we could be living in Nova Scotia or the other Maritime provinces, where things are far worse and with much more snow!

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Karen

Funny how minus 5C seems so much better than minus 20C! In fact, it is really quite pleasant, proving that everything in life is relative.

I got a new down jacket on sale this past weekend. My old one is a too large not allowing me the cosy warmth of a more snug fitting one, plus, I am really tired of basic black.

I found a car coat length parka at Melanie Lynne on sale, in small, which is 80% goose down and 20% feathers. It's in a gorgeous light mink beige, with a fur- trimmed hood, which really works at keeping my brain cells warm, and it actually looks pretty smart, being more tailored than the old box styled coats. I would have liked it a bit longer to keep the legs warm, but I prefer this length for driving.

Before the holidays, also on a decent sale, I found a pair of ankle boots, made in Germany, and lined with wool and with a decent rubber sole. They are SO comfortable, that I feel like I am walking on air, and my feet have never been warmer. I sprayed the brown leather with a sealant and protector so that the snow and water won't damage them, and they look perfect, even after walking in the slush.

So, with my jaunty scarf wrapped around my neck, my lovely thinsulate - lined leather gloves, and new jacket and boots, I look about as chic as anyone can during the icy days of February in Toronto!

I am back at school, where the mood is becoming a bit frantic, as exams loom at the end of this month and the first semester comes to an end. Only three a bit weeks until the all that knowledge will be tested to get four credits.

I am taking two weeks' unpaid leave in early Feb, to attend my niece's wedding in Australia. I can't say I am looking forward to being body- scanned and standing in long lines to get onto the plane for LA, but it sure will be good to see my extended family again and to feel the warmth of the southern hemisphere in January!! Until then, snow and cold are the name of the game....

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