Toronto That Once Was Home

The Writer on the Move at Toronto's Coffee Shop

The Writer on the Move at Toronto’s Coffee Shop

I spend the last week of the out-of-town portion of my Book Writing Tour 2013 in Toronto, trying out my colleague’s writing routine of frequently moving writing locations during the day. This tends to chunk the day with more physical activity and increased potential for interesting encounters and inspirations. Thus, I write my Daily Morning Pages, story notes and organizational ideas at 3 local coffee shops varying in size, artistic decor, and busy-ness, each inspiring creativity in their own way. Throughout the rest of the day, I continue the relocation routine and move around between the garden and the study at the home of my Toronto hostess. My writing colleague and I manage to fit in a collaborative website working session, exchanging tips and tricks, and other website hosting discoveries.

The Writer at the Art Gallery of Ontario

The Writer at the Art Gallery of Ontario

Toronto’s Artist Date takes my writing colleague and I to the beautifully renovated Art Gallery of Ontario. The open-arched sculpture gallery reminds of being trapped with other creatures inside a transparent whale, whose ribs are made of wood. The atrium’s sensuous wooden Baroque Stair that reminds of a snail’s shell is a delightful contrast to the graceful movements of the bird-like robotic arms engaged in a tantalizing ballet dance within the Killing Machine interactive exhibit. Exiting the Gallery, stepping down the gently sloping sinuous ramp with tall massive wooden walls for railings, gives an inspired feeling of floating over the concrete floor like a ballet dancer. The Gallery provides fertile ground for the imagination.

The Gallery experience is further heightened by my excitement of taking Toronto’s Bixi bike share to and from the downtown location. The joyous ride is marred only by a passer-by’s ignorant yet still hurtful audible commentary about the unintentional grimace on my face as I intently concentrate on not getting my bicycle wheel caught in the streetcar (tram) tracks and wiping out.

While I never make it to the nearby Roncesvalles Polish district where I spent about one of my teenage years, I pass through it on a streetcar on my way to the GO Train to make my commute from Toronto to my Mom’s in suburban Brampton for the last weekend of my trip. Excited to be taking one of the very few trains Canada has to offer at present, I even gladly make the 30-minute journey in standing-room-only conditions.

Brampton's Covered Bicycle Parking Station

Brampton’s Covered Bicycle Parking Station

On an unremarkable Sunday afternoon, I stumble on a surprising glimmer of hope for cyclists. In suburban Brampton, I spot a covered bicycle parking station at a “Community Campus” (picture a large open-air mall or “power centre”, geared solely towards public “recreation”, accessible primarily by car, since the >1.5km-long city blocks are largely prohibitive as walking distances). Though distances there leave much to be desired, the brave and fearless cyclists who make the trek there by bike are protected from the dripping rain while locking up their vehicles on a rainy day, and are welcomed by a small piece of infrastructure that further sanctions their transportation choice.

The Writer's Earlier Life

The Writer’s Earlier Life

Upon my return to Vancouver for the final 3 weeks of my Book Writing Tour 2013, I begin to take stock of my gains and my losses from the experience. As part of my travel loot, I return with a handful of my childhood photos to help further jog my memory for stories of what my life’s beginnings were like.

The Special Dish for the Week is a summer favourite, which I make for the second time during my trip (the previous time when London was Calling): the sweet and spicy, cold and refreshing, Watermelon Gazpacho.

From London to Ontario

Garden Dining in London

Garden Dining in London

During my last days in London, and the last days of the European leg of my Book Writing Tour 2013, my London host and I continue the daily morning smoothie and 3-minute Pilates routine, to feed the body, in preparation for feeding the mind with my Daily Morning Pages, weekly blog story posts, working through and writing down my life’s story, and reading some insights that others share about book writing and publishing from their own experiences. In the evenings, we complete the day with some rosé to feed the spirit. We gladly retreat back to our garden dining, after our all-you-can-eat sushi tradition gets us again, before I leave that continent once more.

The Writer in Brampton Garden During Toronto's Heatwave

The Writer in Brampton Garden During Toronto’s Heatwave

I land in the midst of a Toronto heatwave, with much relief after spending the 8-hour journey in frigid temperatures, with most passengers repeatedly complaining to the flight attendants, to no avail. At first, the 45ºC on the thermometer in the sun, and the 30ºC at bedtime, are welcoming. I try to do a little bit of work in the shade and among the vast greenery of my Mom’s Brampton garden, but quite quickly the heat overwhelms even me! I give in to nature, and for a couple of days, I simply visit with my Mom and Sister, going for slow walks, eating great Polish food, and engaging in many a chat, much of which assist me in sorting out my story.

Writers Collaborating in Toronto's West End Coffee Shop

Writers Collaborating in Toronto’s West End Coffee Shop

Even nature gets tired of the heat, and after a few massive thunder and wicked lightening storms, the post-thunderstorm cooling brings me to downtown Toronto for a week-long writers retreat visit with my fellow writer and Toronto hostess. There, I join Melissa in a few of her daily writing and creativity-boosting rituals. She invites me to her early morning coffee shop sessions of writing, drawing and connecting with other local artists. I get a weekly guest-pass and we expand her yoga routine to include Pilates at the local YMCA, also down the street like mine in Vancouver. Throughout the day, we exchange tips on writing habits, software programs, and helpful internet resources. Our joint feedback sessions and collaborations are interspersed with creative alone-time as we migrate with our laptops and sketchpads throughout her lovely artist’s home and garden.

The Writer's Garden Lunch

The Writer’s Garden Lunch

We make smoothies for breakfast and fabulous salads of kale and quinoa for dinner. I excitedly get to try out her stylish bright red Vitamix – the most renowned and coveted blender among vegans, raw-foodies, and most soup chefs, alike. The sweet yet spicy Watermelon Gazpacho soup tastes even better the next day for a mid-morning snack, once the flavours have had the time to infuse together. These dishes are supplemented by various goodies from my Mom’s garden and oven in the care package with which she sent me off to Toronto. All quite spontaneously, I meet several close friends of my Toronto hostess, and reconnect once more in-person with another long-time friend who is very supportive of me and my efforts.

The Writer at Toronto’s Kensington Market

The Writer at Toronto’s Kensington Market

My impressions of Toronto as a land of BBQs, cottage-getaways, and urban sprawl are slightly augmented by the highly multi-cultural Kensington Market area we lunch and shop for groceries at, and the diverse and livable West End where I am staying. This area is very close to the Polish community of Roncesvalles that was one of my first homes around Toronto as a kid when I first came to Canada. I look forward to possibly trying out the Toronto Bixi bike share, as I patiently await its installation in Vancouver, hopefully as soon as next spring!

Book Writing Tour 2013

Book Writing Tour 2013 - 1This summer, 2013, I am taking my book writing on a tour.

I committed to writing down my story in a book on New Year’s 2010/2011. It has been a slow but steady process. I have received nothing but support and encouragement – even if some with slight hesitation at such an ambitious undertaking, and although most in the writing world warn of the publishing demise.

“I have a story to tell, as I continue to weave it. Want to become a thread in my story?”

Tour dates and locations:

  • My 2013 Book Writing Tour began on May 16 in Vancouver.
  • On June 10, it moves to Paris for 2 1/2 week French immersion (voulez-vous parler français avec moi ?).
  • On the June 28 night train, off for a week-long French-German fusion in Hamburg (lasst uns essen, guten appetit, prost!).
  • First weekend in July, for a little break from writing, but not from interviewing some of my sources, when I meet with my family in Poznan, Poland (dzien dobry, prosze mow dalej, dziekuje!).
  • As of July 8, wrapping up the European leg with 1 1/2 weeks in London, nearly my home-away-from-home but not quite (jolly good, bloody well, cheers!).
  • July 17, dropping in to Toronto for another 1 1/2 weeks for some familial pursuits and collegial feedback (the novelty of walkability in TO!).
  • The tour concludes with 3 more weeks in Vancouver, before returning to regularly scheduled programming at NRCan on August 19.

Book Writing Tour 2013 - 2See what develops! Follow along where the tour takes me in my writing, cooking, travelling, and growing. Join me (virtually, if not in person).

Je vous remercie pour tout votre soutien ! / Thank you for all your support!