Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Doors Open Toronto 2014

I hit Doors Open Toronto again this year. I try to go every year if I can. This year I could only go on Saturday because I had the boarding home visit on Sunday afternoon. Though I did manage to sneak in one place after church on Sunday before I went to volunteer.

I chose places I hadn't been to in previous years. Many of the buildings/places have been open to the public to visit for many years already. It's getting hard to find news ones.

The first place I went to was the Toronto Necropolis (which is just a cemetery). Run by the Mount Pleasant Group of Cemeteries it's located east off Parliament, north of Carlton right beside the Riverdale Zoo/Farm.

I thought I'd visit it because the picture of the chapel there on the Doors Open website looked nice. All cemeteries are generally nice. They have lovely landscaping and are peaceful and quiet. This one was no different. As far as cemeteries go this one was pretty small. It only had one road that looped through it.

A number of notable Canadians are buried here such as George Brown (founding publisher of The Globe and Father of Confederation); Ned Hanlan (World Champion Oarsman); William Lyon Mackenzie (first Mayor of Toronto); and Jack Layton (whose real name was John Gilbert Layton, leader of the Federal NDP).

Next I went to the Russell Carhouse on Queen Street by Greenwood. It's where the TTC stores its streetcars. I went here mostly because it was on my way to another building I wanted to visit.

They had some historical streetcars there on display. You could even take a free ride around the building in one of them. They also had the new extra-long street cars on display there. I didn't take the time to go on any of them. I was just there to take pictures.

After that I went further east on Queen Street all the way out to Victoria Park. The R.C. Harris Water Treatment Plant was there. It's a really neat looking Art Deco building. I took a number of pictures here.

My last stop on Saturday was the Munk School of Global Affairs on Bloor, west of the Royal Ontario Museum. Originally constructed in 1909 the building served as a meteorological observation centre and home to the Dominion Meteorological Service. I've always admired this building whenever I walked by it. I was happy they opened it up.

On Sunday I rushed over to the Arcadian after church. I only had about an hour or so before I had to leave for my boarding home visit. The Arcadian is an event centre located on the 8th floor of the Hudson's Bay building on the southeast corner of Queen and Bay.

It was originally opened in 1929, and, in 2011-2012, the 8,086 sq. ft. historical and cultural gem was restored to its original Art deco glory.

Interestingly enough I bumped into my floormate/former classmate, Anne-Marie, there. She was checking the place out with her friend. We live two doors down from each other in the same condo. As well, we were classmates in the graphic design program at George Brown College.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Lunch at Ka Chi

After faithfully going to Rol Jui every Sunday after church for lunch week after week, I finally relented and joined the group at Ka Chi in Kensington Market.

I've been going to Rol Jui for many years now and have developed a good relationship with the staff there. I like the food, the portions are large and it's relatively inexpensive. That's a great combination as far as I'm concerned.

Tony and Iris and their group of international students all used to go too until Tony believes he ate something bad and got sick. I have to say in all the years I've gone there I've never had a problem. I know Tony had gone there for many, many years too without any trouble either. Now I believe they go to Ka Chi most of the time and I try to find whoever I can scrounge up to go to Rol Jui.

Anyway, on this particular Sunday I decided to go with them. It was just going to be Jin Sook, Changhwan and Rose. Tony and Iris were away sick. What I didn't realize was it was going to be Jin Sook's last Sunday in Toronto before returning home to Korea. I believe she may be coming back later in the year.

Lunch was fine. Normally when I eat at Korean restaurants I have bibimbap. This time was no different. I have to say I wish the portions were a bit larger. But I imagine my appetite is bigger than most others. I did get to eat Jin Sook's leftovers, so that helped.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Cherry Blossom Walk

Like my early trip to Sunnybrook Park to see the trilliums on Friday, I dropped by High Park on Sunday to check the progress of the cherry blossoms after visiting the boarding home.

I parked at the furthest lot located in the park. It's the one off Parkside Drive off Lakeshore Boulevard. I didn't mind parking so far away. I was out for a walk after all.

Since it was so nice out there were a fair number of people in the park even though the blossoms weren't all fully open. Some people were fishing, others riding their bikes. There were a number of photographers like me. But most others were just walking around.

I didn't go straight for the cherry trees on the side of the hill by Grenadier Pond. Instead I walked along the path on the south side of the park (following The Queensway). I wanted to try to get some shots overlooking the pond looking towards the hillside.

It was a really nice day out. The sun was shining and the skies were blue. It was quite good for pictures. I took a number around the pond before heading towards the hill with the cherry trees. Even though only about half the blossoms were open I still took quite a few pictures. Less open blossoms means less people. So I tried to take advantage of that.

I plan on being back the following week. Hopefully the weather will be as nice.

Update: I went to High Park the following week. We had wet weather and wind during that time. Many of the blossoms were blown/knocked off the cherry trees unfortunately.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Early Trillium Walk

I rode my bike over to Sunnybrook Park on my Friday off work to check on the progress of the trilliums there. Like the cherry blossoms they've been delayed by the long, cold winter. Normally they both bloom around the same time. That would be anywhere between the last week in April through the first week in May.

It was a slightly overcast day. I took the shortcut through Sunnybrook Hospital. There's a path that runs behind the hospital. You can't actually get to the park by car that way. But, if you walk or ride your bike it's good.

The trail where the trilliums are are up by the sports fields. Even though it was fairly early in the season the regular dog walkers were out. I suspect they live in the neighbourhood and are there all the time. Besides them it was pretty quiet.

The trilliums were undersized of course. I suspected they'd be. But, that was all right. I didn't go out only to take pictures of them, but, also, to get some quiet time and a bit of fresh air.

All-in-all I spent about two hours walking around. I would have spent a little longer, but the skies were threatening rain. I did get caught briefly before I made it all the way home. Perhaps I should have left about 10 minutes earlier. Oh well.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Out of the Cold Volunteer Dinner

We finished another season at the Out of the Cold program at Knox Presbyterian the last Tuesday in April. I believe it's been running for at least 15 years.

Vicki and Bill have been in charge for a number of years. Pat has been helping with the food preparation for a long, long time too. I believe I've been there for about 8 years.

Our dishwashing crew had a good season. Joe was a stalwart. He made it out almost every week scrubbing all the dirty pots and pans. Sam and Young-wha were great too, coming whenever they were available to put away all the washed dishes.

We had some new helping hands in Jack and Midori with their parents Paul and Tomoko. Melinda filled in whenever we were short which was very much appreciated.

Here is a group shot of many of the volunteers at our annual volunteer dinner. It's always the first Tuesday in May. The week after we finish with the program for the season.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Birthday Weekend

I had a wonderful birthday weekend. It started on Friday night with dinner at Kushi Izakaya. On Saturday the foodie group had hot pot at Peter's condo. Gabe and Peter bought a variety meat and veggies and other goodies. I brought some ice cream - Heavenly Hash and Black Cherry. Since we got there first we washed and chopped the stuff they bought.

Fiona made some cookies for me for my birthday. That was nice of her. Justin ended up eating most of them though.

After dinner they gave me a carrot cake cupcake with a candle on it. I made them sing, Happy Birthday, to me.

After that we played Monopoly Deal card game. I think Peter picked it up in Hong Kong while he was there. It ended up taking a lot longer to play than we expected. After than Martin and Edna went home. That left Peter, Gabe, Emily, Fiona, Justin and me.

We played Saboteur next. It's Emily's game. I played it once before when she brought it to game night at Shopsy's on Woodbine. I liked it.

This time we had seven players, which according to an online game players poll, is the best number of players to have.

The game isn't too complicated. The objective of it is either to build a path from the starting point to one of three cards opposite of it, one of which is "gold", or to block players from doing it.

At the beginning you are given a card which deems you either a miner or a "Saboteur" (the name of the game). If you are a miner you have to build a seven card path to the gold. If you are a Saboteur you have to block the miners from accomplishing that task.

You are dealt five cards next. The cards will allow you to build or block the path to the gold depending on your objective. Other cards are maps cards which allow you check one of the three cards to see which one might be the gold (so you know which one to build the path to); action cards which allow you to penalize or free people from taking their turn depending on who you believe is your enemy or ally. There is also a card that can blow up part of the path to delay the miners from their goal.

People take turns either playing a card or discarding one (if they choose not to play one). They then pick up a new card from the deck and the next player goes. If the miners don't build their path to the gold by the time the cards run out the Saboteurs win that round.

It's a really fun game. You never know who to trust. Games are short and miners and Saboteurs constantly change. Though, this evening, Justin ended up being the Saboteur at least 8 of the 10 or so games we played. I was a Saboteur twice.

We ended up staying at Peter's until nearly 2:00 a.m.

On Sunday I met Lawrence for dinner at Tucker's Marketplace near his place off Highway 401 and Highway 27.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Dinner at Kushi Izakaya

We went to Kushi Izakaya for dinner on Friday. It was for Taku and I's birthdays. Are birthdays are actually a day and two away, but it was close enough.

Last year we went to Zakkushi Izakaya. They're located on Carlton west of Parliament. Kushi is on Eglinton east of Avenue Road.

Taku suggested a couple of other Izakaya restaurants originally. One of them was Guu on Bloor at Bathurst. I can't remember the other.

Izakayas serve mostly tapas type food. More or less various kinds of appetizers like chicken skewers along with some sushi and things. They're fairly expensive.

I suggested Kushi after getting a $30 voucher (for $15) from Wagjag.com. They offered $60 vouchers for $30 too. But they were sold out.

Originally there were supposed to be five of us - Me, Taku, Gabe, Emily and Daphne. But Daphne had to babysit last minute for her friend. Oh well.

The restaurant was quite nice. I really liked the music. The servers were very cute. Every time they came by with something they would bow before they left.

We had quite a bit of food along with some warm sake and dessert. It was all very tasty. They even threw in a couple of free items. Still the bill ended up being around $170 between the four of us (before the discount and before tip). It's all right once a year.