On the first light almost as an afterthought a handsome and much younger man handed Streetgirl a small plastic bag stuffed with weed.
“Oh,” she squealed, “thanks so much.” He smiled brightly as if surprised by her genuine gratitude.
A few lights later another man rolled down his window and passed her huge pre-rolled marijuana joint and the pleasant passenger reached across to contribute a box of take away sushi, tempura shrimp included :). When Streets remarked that someone had just given her a bag of pot the woman responded “Weed Day!” with a chuckle.
(Mind you, this is not a common occurrence, but cool for Streetgirl who suffers anxiety, easily treated with a puff or two, yet can’t afford to go pot shopping and only eats sushi at the end of the month when splurging with an order out from the Japanese restaurant three blocks down, great food, reasonable prices.)
Pyromania is an impulse control disorder in which an individual repeatedly fails to resist the desire to deliberately start fires, in order to relieve tension and gain instant gratification. Setting fires induces euphoria in a pyromaniac who may tend to fixate on institutions of fire control like fire houses and firefighters.
January 2020 -The siren rang while I was sleeping; admittedly, I recently taped over the alarm inside my door to tame down the tone which was deafening, but I still hear it. We residents have become resistant when it comes to the threat; there have been many false alerts these past few years. However, when I heard over the intercom firefighters were battling a blaze on an 8th floor balcony and that we should all stay in place until further notice, I was concerned. That’s my floor! Certainly it is the work of the man who lives upstairs somewhere above my friend’s apartment at the end of the hall! It’s not the first time that balcony has been lite by flames dropped from overhead and we think it was the resident pyromaniac himself who knocked on Norm’s door late one night last year to say that he’d been looking down and noticed my friend’s fake tree was on fire. Just a small flame and extinguished without professional aid, but later, upon investigation, we found a piece of charred paper in the plant container. Not simply an accidental incident caused by a tossed cigarette butt, but a deliberate deed. Difficult to pinpoint, the culprit is quick and elusive, dropping off his firebombs before ducking back under the cover of his balcony and no-one is quite sure which floor he’s on but several have seen him at work and the superintendent has been informed more than once. His response to me was to put it in writing, so that’s what I am doing, but if the whole place goes down in a blazing glory, how will he feel and who would be to blame? Our lives are at stake! Continue reading “Fire on the Balcony!”
Yesterday, I thought of Delores who lives on the 18th floor and decided to wrap her a Christmas present because I was sure she had not received a one! I re-used some Grinch paper from a frantic hour of opening; the environment as it is, I can’t bare to trash it all and intend to encourage my granddaughter to use it in some sort of creative way next time she visits. The re-gifts to my friend, who lives alone in Toronto Housing as do I and is a decade older and always telling me how cold she feels in her apartment, consisted of a pair of warm woman’s socks purchased at The Dollar Store, and a fleece throw some nice guy gave Streetgirl on Boxing Day (also re-gifting), and, finally, a long grey open style sweater passed to me by my hostess Peggy as she unloaded her crammed closet on Christmas day upon Cathy and I. Meantime, Keeba played like a pup with her new found friend Murphy who was three and happy as could be to have a guest; Sara the Sheppard chilled on the couch and we all eagerly awaited host Brian’s delicious holiday dinner,
Back to my neighbor Delores! When I knocked upon her door last night, bearing gifts, my goodness wasn’t she just thrilled to the point of tears. The sweater fit perfect and the soft white shawl wrapped around black shoulders brought out an angelic smile and warmed her heart. We hugged and kissed over and over and she cried with happiness someone had thought of her. I left feeling blessed for the moment! That is the true joy of giving!
December 9th,, and I was going to take the Lawrence West Subway to Eglinton West and stop to say hi to Sue who would be panhandling at the Ramp before going home; she recently confided that she could have cancer and that sucks! However, the sidewalk out front of the station was packed and a stressed commuter informed me that southbound trains were not running the two stops to St. Clair West; a growing mass waiting to board shuttle buses blocked the entrance.
Time to take a detour! Went up the street to wait for the 109, short bus route and an easy option, as it stops in front of my building, but often delayed on both ends, particularly where the construction and destruction of the expansion makes for traffic chaos. If it didn’t show up fast I’d walk the way which I normally do.
At the stop a few people waited with me, no one quite sure when the next bus was coming as the shuttles kept rolling by. A young woman sat on the bench, slumped over with a half-eaten bag of Cheetos on the ground beside her. It was obvious to me that she was nodding out and in no hurry to go anywhere! No-one took much notice until she started hacking away and I asked if she was okay, causing her to stand, mumble and shuffle perilously in place. When she raised a can of what appeared to be air freshener to her mouth and took a deep huff we all moved back and stepped out of the shelter.
“Don’t do that girl. It’ll make you sicker,” I said, even as I knew my words would have no effect upon her habit of inhaling toxic substances, and then the bus came and I got on with the other’s leaving the poor soul behind.
On board I overheard, as clear as it was a rainy day, a TTC driver who was hitching a ride tell our driver that it was “a bomb threat” causing the subway shutdown and adding that workers were tired of “this” happening, which implied not an isolated incident. Other passengers heard this too, prompting the middle aged black woman who lives in my building and was seated across from me to launch into a blame game, the extinction of The Lord’s Prayer in our schools, lost values and too many immigrants, and finally, it was Trudeau’s fault that immorality ran amuck in the city; to which, at that point, I felt compelled to reply, I don’t get into politics with people. There was no mention of a bomb threat on the evening news and since subway closures are a norm in Toronto who would have known?
The rest of the dream has eluded me, so I begin at the end; pressed against the side of a horseshoe shaped snow covered cliff and dangling precariously. Carefully, I turn my head to look upon a deep dark inlet below. It’s a long drop! If the crash didn’t kill me, the cold cove water would. I sense by the feel of the curve of the slope under my body that I am near the top, but encased in a winter coat that could prove slippery and lead to my demise I must continue with caution. Continue reading “Last Night’s Dream!”
My granddaughter was trying my glasses on her new pug puppy. Look closely and you will see her smiling face!
Inspired by Linus and Lucy of the Peanut Gang, Charlie Brown’s The Great Pumpkin, 1966 American prime time animated TV Show!
I graduated from the University of Western Ontario in 1997 with a B.A. in Social Sciences. At least I think that was the year; lost the framed diploma along with my other certificates of educational achievements and most everything else I treasured back in 2010 when I became homeless due to alcohol and drugs, mental health issues, and self-destructive life choices.
I’ve been a fan of Front Street since stepping off the overnight VIA Rail departed from Montreal for the first time, summer 1980. I had come to Toronto to perform at the Zanzibar on Young Street, or to visit my eldest brother who lived downtown with several other post-graduate students, can’t recall which. If it was the latter, being hungry after the overnight trip, he likely bought me lunch at St. Lawrence Market. Sitting on a stool eating peameal bacon sandwiches was trendy at the time, as was the exploitation of the female body; an expanding business manifesting from burlesque, striptease and topless go-go girls, to the full blown lucrative phenomenon that was table dancing and I was a key player. One arresting teenage mistake, followed by a jury trial, resulting in a criminal conviction paved the way down that deviant path (but that’s another story).
There was no golden glass skyscraper dominating the scenery in the early 80′, but the Royal York Hotel had been standing proud since 1927 and Union Station opened the travel hub that same year with Prince Edward snipping the ribbon. By then the city had become a thriving industrial center and there was a need for both. They called it Hogtown! The stench and squealing long dissipated; Toronto was built on the brutal butchering of hundreds of thousands of pigs beginning in the 1860’s. Today, the William Davies building at 145 Front Street East is all that’s left of the sprawling stockyards, packing, and processing plants. The Company was the first Canadian meat exporter and the largest food producer of the era, killing and shipping millions of pounds of salt-cured pork annually for decades. (No disrespect to his descendants, but for the benefit of those who do not condone the practice of eating meat, you could say that William Davies got what was coming to him when he died after being butted by a goat in 1931; well into his 90’s after a full life fat off the hog.)
“Keep following that vortex of Hope!” Encouragement from a concerned stranger.
“Fill your belly. .. make merry. Let days be full of joy. Dance and make music day and night.” From the original Old Babylonian version of the Epic of Gilgamesh.
Afterthought: On Freebies – I apologize to my Mother if I arbitrarily portrayed her as a lush, chugging down Beer, Boilermakers, and Mudslides and making merry day and night!
I want to say hooray, but after watching CTV News on Sunday, I was surprised to hear a woman praise the prices. Continue reading “Pot Shop’s open in T.O.”
When the 3rd period is too much to take!
“What better way to pass the day than drinking a tall glass of whisky and beer on ice at Buddy K’s.” (Most commonly called a Boilermaker/ Originated in Butte, Montana, in the 1890’s, then-called a “Sean O’Farrell” and drunk by copper miners after shift in the heyday of America’s first major industrial city. No ice cubes back then though!)
That’s what Mom said Saturday evening back in March, as we were winding down after a week of watching over Granddaughter at our humble abode while Big Sis was away solo-backpacking in faraway Thailand. Fortunately all went well with the little one, which is not always the case when living in TCHC where anything can happen to spoil the mood at any given moment.
“Even better when it’s free,” Buddy quipped, in regards to her choice of beverage. Continue reading “A Dog’s Eye View – Freebie!”
“I am in the same shoes as you,” he says “struggling too.”
“Life is hard,” the panhandler responds.
The man with greying hair wants to talk and Streetgirl is empathetic. One should not righteously receive so much from others without taking the time to return the favor in kind.
“I’ve worked in real estate for 26 years and I haven’t sold one property this past year. I may lose it all,” his eyes begin to well as he holds back tears. They reach out and grasp hands for a second, blessing one another as the light changes and he must move on.
“I know you are going to sell a house real soon,” Streets assures him waving goodbye and hopes that is the case.
From my archives – Winter of 2015
Seeking solace and a blessed place to say her prayers, Streetgirl flew her sign yesterday, straddling the curb and strolling up and down the island. Those same paths that her panning peer, so-tagged The Veteran, had ambled thousands of times. It was chilly, but they’d been out in far worse weather and enjoyed it too; a freedom of sorts. If it was Joe he would be wearing a toque, thin shirt under a jacket year-round day and night, and sandals without socks; even though someone had given him a pair of boots two months before his passing. Thrilled to tell the tale, how he’d been snoozing in the sun behind the gas station when a guy came by and offered to take him to Canadian Tire to buy a winter coat and footwear. One of so many kind gestures afforded him by strangers. That night they dumped his dirty smelly old one down the garbage shoot in our building as a ceremonial gesture and he donned the gift until the day he died. Continue reading “Quotes from Streets: Farewell Friend”
I was going to post a happy go lucky egotistical tail about how great my X-mas was. That’s me in the photo heading east on the GO Bus to Big Sister’s. And about our Happy New Year down in Buddy K’s basement where the hosts are the most, the living is easy, and copious meals are served right on time; best bacon loaded weekend breakfast in the World! However, with the passing of Homeless Joe my mood has soured, plus it’s already January 12th and the deadline has passed. Instead I will take this opportunity to tell my faithful friend see u in Heaven!
“There are not enough Josephs in the world!” John Deacon
“Joseph was a soldier. Him know him gonna fall one day!” Delroy, my Jamaican neighbor sitting in the lobby making the motions as he speaks fondly.
Farewell Joseph. My heart is broken! Never again will I hear your knock at my door and this saddens me so I can barely breath. Rest in Peace.
With the legalization of Marijuana in its current state, Canada has opened the gate-way to becoming one of the world’s leading contributor of single-use plastic pollution.
“Cause you’re the joke of the neighborhood…Why should you care if you’re feeling good…Take the long way home,” SUPERTRAMP. (1ST concert Mother went to in the summer of 1979, Lansdowne Park, Ottawa.)
I feel sort of sorry for some People. Continue reading “A Dog’s Eye View – Take the Long Way Home!”
(From the archive – 2012) I am lying in a comfortable double bed; obviously not mine since I sleep on a mattress on the floor in my current dwelling. Someone is curled up beside me. Our bodies do not touch, but I immediately sense a naked backside and catch a glimpse of pale pudgy skin and well-worn boxer shorts. Not a lover. Perhaps a friend? I myself might be naked, not sure, but I am carpeted and warm in a white duvet and there is a soft pillow under my head. Laid still, with dawns light breezing through an open window and fluttering sheer curtains, I survey the environment.
Continue reading “THE DREAM”
A five dollar bill visible in one hand the woman pokes her head partway out the window and says, “Quick question. Who is the composer?”
Never been strong on trivia, perhaps due to perceived trauma Christmas 1980, 20 years old and playing the brand new board game sensation “Trivial Pursuit” with the family, led by an intellectual and dominating father and two older smarty-pants brothers; she was bound to lose. However, today the unmistakable ominous first four notes of “Symphony No. 5” coming from inside the car jogged Streetgirl’s mind to emit an immediate unwavering response.
And the music lover passes the money with a smile, “You win.”
Looks like an ideal spot for a nap by the lake, doesn’t it? Not! This is a hammock hung by a Canadian Aboriginal homeless man on a steep slope of trees and bushes along the edge of the highway leading to the Allan Road Ramp where he panhandles on a daily basis.
I took this photo late November 2012. Looking at it today, I am still stricken by the incongruity of the Nike symbol on the shoes, the Canadian flag hanging so prominent, and the Allen Expressway in the back ground; bold statements in a harsh environment. Continue reading “We are Canadian”
“The generous will themselves be blessed, for they share their food with the poor,” Proverbs 22.9
Many thanks to the nice guy who passed Streetgirl a huge container packed with delicious homemade cabbage rolls yesterday afternoon. Not quite enough to feed an army, but plenty for sharing with three hungry neighbors!