Saturday, February 25, 2017

Double D's Pizza

On Saturday we went to Double D's Pizza on Gerrard Street for dinner. It was partially just to grab a bite, as well as to celebrate Justin's birthday. I believe he had read about it on BlogTO or something like that and wanted to give it a try.

Gabe, along with Justin and Doris, came by my place around 6:30 to pick me up. We took the side streets down to Leslieville and parked at Gerrard Square and walked over.

The restaurant is pretty small. They have two bar stools by the west window followed by 3-tables for four along the west wall, plus a table for three or four at the back of the east side and around 10 stools along the bar for a total of under 30 seats. Needless to say, on a weekend evening the wait to be seated was about 3/4 of an hour.

On top of that, the Chicago-style, deep dish pizzas (at over 1" deep) they made were expected to take 40-minutes from the time you ordered to when you were served. So, upon our arrival, we had to decide if we wanted to wait nearly an hour an a half before we started eating. We waited.

They have three types of pizzas to choose from - Chicago Classic - pepperoni, Italian sausage; Jalapeño Blue - blue cheese, Italian sausage, bacon; Farmers Market - roasted red peppers, mushrooms, red onion, spinach. Or you can build your own from a list of these toppings - extra cheese, italian sausage, pepperoni, bacon, jalapeños, red peppers, mushrooms, red onions, spinach, black olives, anchovies, pineapple, fresh basil.

There are four sizes you can choose from - personal, small, medium and large. A medium would suffice for two people. If you were really hungry a couple of big guys could possibly split a large. We picked two mediums - one Chicago Classic at $29 and a Farmers Market for $24. Paired with a pint of beer the pizzas were both delicious. The staff were nice enough to even offer us four glasses of Jameson Irish Whiskey on the house. How thoughtful.

I'd go back again for sure. Maybe earlier so the wait wouldn't be so long. Or, perhaps, on a less busy day. I'd discourage going in groups larger than four unless you don't mind being split up (or waiting a really long time).

Monday, February 20, 2017

When Death Catches You Off Guard

Death has been revolving around my life more and more in recent days. As I wrote about previously, the sudden (to me) death of CBC radio personality, Stuart McLean, happened on Wednesday. On Thursday, a young lady who attended the Knox Youth Dinner on Tuesday evenings was murdered in her apartment on Dawes Road. And Friday was the first anniversary of our friend Tom Chan's passing.

Now, I didn't know Stuart McLean personally. Nor did I know the lady, Michelle Riley, who attended Knox. I only saw her in passing as we walked the halls. That was about it.

Tom was a friend from hockey. We saw each other on a weekly basis through winter. After some time he reached out to me and invited me over to his and Florianne's place for get togethers. I will always appreciate his kindness and hospitality. He was truly a great guy.

The thing about these deaths, and many others, is they happened unexpectedly. One day the person is here, the next day they are gone. It's especially difficult for their loved ones. Though, in some cases, they may have had an inkling something was wrong (if the person was elderly or sick).

But, to their cursory friends, sometimes death comes as a shock. That can be really hard. Especially if you never got the chance to personally say, good-bye. To express your gratitude for their friendship, to hold their hand and tell them you care for them and that you'll miss them. That's the heartbreaking part in stories like this.

Good-bye, my friend.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Stuart McLean Passes Away

CBC radio just reported one of their longtime radio personalities, Stuart McLean, has passed away. In December 2016 he suspended his long-running radio show The Vinyl Café to focus on his treatment for melanoma which he was diagnosed with in late 2015. Today, he lost that battle.

I had listened to his show, The Vinyl Café, soon after I started making deliveries back in 2011. His stories about Dave and Morley and their friends and family brought a smile to my face week after week. Without fail, I would tune in every Thursday at 1:00 to listen to some songs and a couple of stories he'd tell about some crazy misadventure in Dave's life.

McLean told stories about Dave's life growing up in Big Narrows, Cape Breton with his mother, Margaret, and sister, Annie; his adventures on the road with different bands; and his record store, The Vinyl Café. He told stories about Dave's family - his wife Morely and their children Stephanie and Sam and their pets Arthur the dog and Galway the cat.

There were stories about Dave's friend Kenny and his restaurant Wong's Scottish Meat Pies; and his neighbours Bert and Mary Turlington, Jim Scoffield, Carl Lowbeer and Eugene Conte. Each week the characters were more and more flushed out. And, each week, I was more and more invested in them and their lives.

McLean's stories were pure Canadiana... a wonderful escape from the drudgery of everyday life. I'll miss that as well as his unique style of storytelling and his one-of-a-kind voice. It's a sad day for Canada, a sad day for Canadians.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Pond Hockey at Lance's Farm

My friend Lance organized a 3-on-3 pond hockey game at his farm near Orangeville on Saturday. Originally it had been planned for two weeks earlier, but the temperatures that week were too warm. Even though the pond is only 5-feet deep, it wasn't worth taking the chance of falling through.

After driving an hour and a half, I arrived at Lance's place ten or fifteen minutes after the scheduled meeting time of noon. Two guys, Ian and Andrew, were already there.

The pond, still partially covered with snow, needed to be cleared so we grabbed shovels went out back. Lance had a snowblower which he used to clear the deeper stuff. By 2:30 p.m. we had a large portion of the 100'x150' pond ready to go. Now, where was everyone else?

According to the Facebook event page, 12 people had confirmed they were coming. Though two or three of them were only coming for dinner afterwards. It seemed the 3-on-3 game wasn't going to materialize.

Ian, Andrew and I passed pucks around for an hour or so while waiting for Lance to don his goalie equipment and, as we learned later, put the turkey in the oven. Lance's dog, Marshall, would chase the pucks as we played "keep away". Occasionally he would corral one after which he would take off to chew on it.

When Lance finally came out we took shots on him for awhile before retiring to get ready for the evening.

One thing we had to do was get some firewood ready for a bonfire. Lance already had a bunch of wood cut and ready to go. But he still wanted to cut down a few dead trees around the property to burn.

He had borrowed three gas-powered chainsaws from some of his neighbours. We couldn't get any of them to work though. Ian got one to start, but the chain was too lose and it flew off while it was running. We got another one to start, but it only ran for 10-15 seconds before conking out.

We ended up cutting down one small tree with a dull axe. After struggling with that for around 15-20 minutes we had had enough. One tree was all the extra wood we were getting.

By early evening another one of Lance's friends, a fellow farmer, Jerry, had shown up. Later on a couple others, Ariel and Gavi, came by.

In anticipation of Lance's cornucopia of food, we prepared our palates with beer and chips. He had prepared Caesar salad, turkey, steak, lamb, sausage, broccoli with cheese and mashed potatoes for everyone. All made from scratch.

Dinner was great. It was nice meeting all his friends. They're quite a varied group. Except for Jerry (who was 62) the rest of the guys were in their 20's. A bit younger than people I normally hang out with, but that was fine.

It was good getting together to enjoy Lance's hospitality. If we do it again hopefully we'll get a few more skaters.