Friday, November 28, 2008

Buildings, beer, budgets

I haven’t kept my blog up the way I used to… it used to be partly about recording the little things I did, mostly so I’d remember them more distinctly as time goes on – for me, they tend to blur together into a big common pot of “travel outside the city” or “had a beer downtown” or “saw a movie”. They’re of only passing interest to most people, I know, if that, but I think it’s important to keep it up.

Well, last Saturday, P-Doug and I went out to Streetsville at my prompting. I’d seen a little video of the place from about 1960, and I wanted to compare what I saw with what I remember with what’s there today. As it turned out, we didn’t really stop there; we just blew through on our way back to town.

Where we went first was a service station on the side of the 401 that was in business for about 15 years. I knew it well; the only Wendy’s for miles was there and I got gas there fairly often (yes, yes, pun intended). It closed about two years ago, at the end of September, 2006, and I can remember seeing the notice on my way back from somewhere one weekend, just before it actually closed. I’m not sure why it closed… it was always doing good business.

I was out of gas by the time we arrived and P-Doug volunteered, right out of the blue, to by me a fill-up. I was quite taken by it, since it’s not really the custom on our trips.

We got there and parked just off Argentia and crossed the street to a way through the fence I’d spotted on GoogleMaps. On one of the light poles, there was a cross in purple flowers, and a little shrine to some young driver killed at the spot (presumably). Someone who would always be their “monkey”, according to the writing on the photo. It was heavily wrapped in cellophane against the weather, though, so the sun shining on it made it very difficult to read.

We got to the station and wandered around the gas bar for a few minutes. It was strange to see it without the gas pumps or brand insignia. As is out wont these days, we took 3D paired shots of the place. Coming around to the other side, we saw a beat-up little Chev with Downsview plate frames… we took it to be abandoned, possibly stolen. Then P-Doug noticed a porta-potty. He made a sly joke about it being a cheap TARDIS that I got immediately but laughed at late because it grew increasingly funnier the more I thought about it. We didn’t put two and two together just yet. We headed toward the main building.

As we often do in these cases, we split up. He went along the north side and I went south because I wanted to see the abandoned drive-thru I’d patronized so many times. It was a weird thing to see it boarded up. Took some panos of the parking lot and the building’s main entrance, then we sort of switched sides.

When I came back to the gas bar, I noticed a guy with Sikh head gear wandering around. He’d noticed me, but he took his time coming forward. I hung back, waiting for P-Doug, who arrived pretty much at the same time as this other fellow – the security guard, as I’d imagined – came up. It was a nice enough chat, though I confess the man’s accent made following him unusually difficult. He seemed convinced the government was vastly wasteful, and of course we agreed politely. He struck me as rather starved for attention, for it must have taken us the better part of half an hour to cross the gas bar and finally say our good-byes.

After that, we blew through Streetsville without seeing anything compelling enough to stop for, and made our way down Mississauga Road to the QEW. P-Doug had mentioned visiting the Great Lakes Brewery, and while he waved it off, I felt driven to visit because we were so close, I wanted to see the place, and he’d indulged me in floating around an abandoned gas station and drifting through scenic but unengaging suburbia. It was not easy to get to the place. It’s down right north of the QEW where the street configurations are discontinuous. We did finally get there, sampled a couple of beers, ate a few shortbread cookies, and looked over their visitors’ book. They had people visiting from the States, and even from Britain – one from a brewery over there, which impressed me above all.

Off to Bryden’s. Again, not easy, because the Kingsway North was closed. But we did get there. Had a few pints, decimated a plate of what we mutually agree are the city’s best nachos (the ground beef is done in a jerk sauce whose recipe was given to the bar by the Jamaican aunt of one of the staff, and it’s incredible), took home a glass, entered a contest we didn’t win, and simply enjoyed the place for a few hours. The idea of going to a movie came up and we looked in a handy copy of NOW and P-Doug suggested seeing I.O.U.S.A. at the Carlton, so off we went.

Now that was in an interesting movie. There’s not much point in going into it, except to say it’s about the debt burden of the United States, with a historical perspective, and some ideas about how it can be turned around – and why it must be. They’re showing a condensed, 30-minute version online for free that focuses a bit more closely on the stats – brilliantly communicated using compelling animation sequences – and you really ought to take that in at least. Hey, it’s free, and it’s right here.

1 comment:

M Taher said...

Thanks for the comment at my New Canadians Blog.
OOPS, I am not Sheila.
I missed the quotation marks to show that I am quoting Sheila (I have now added the quotation mark).
FYI. I found an interesting post, by someone, and I brought up in the context of differences in language, even among the English speaking communities.
(I didn't move from Australia).
Btw, Your Blog is already in my list --Newcomers Neighborhood Blogs
(and thanks to Google, I and my audience read all your new posts). Would you like to reciprocate and add my blog too?
Best wishes