Sunday, June 28, 2009

An Early Summer Life In The Dominion

Between Confederation Day on Wednesday and the upcoming July 4 weekend in the States, it's a very quiet week in Toronto.

I suspect I'm the only resident left on my entire block right now - maybe in the entire city. The mad rush to pack up cars and toss kids in the back went on all day yesterday. The sound of tires squealing as people pulled out of their driveway was as if molten lava was oozing down the hill and if they didn't get out immediately the volcano would consume them.

But there’s one district in the great hairy metropolis that hasn’t been evacuated for the holiday week.

In the central core's gay village, 1-million-plus people are doing their best to catch all kinds of vile STDs and parasites as this is Pride weekend in Toronto, noted for its wide open, find it on every corner, sex-on-a-stick – oops, bad word choice – frivolity. Along with Caribbana at the end of July, Pride is the biggest tourist draw Toronto mounts - more bad phrasing, sorry - during the year. About half of the attendees come - another sorry word choice - from somewhere else and hotels as far away as Kingston and Hamilton are booked because hotels, motels, B&B’s, trailer parks and camp grounds everywhere in the metro area have been reserved for a year.

Actually, pre-event crowd estimates for Pride were closer to 1.5-million because the weekend coincides with the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall riots in New York.

Given that city workers, including the good folks who collect garbage, are on strike coupled with the very hot, muggy weather we’ve had all week means that Toronto stinks and the detritus from Pride weekend won't help things.

But the week has been a boon for the city's humongous raccoon population as garbage is piled high in all of the commercial districts. The lakefront smells because the daily, algae and bacteria clearing, city motorboat run along the lakeshore isn't being done. Public transit is running because TTC workers are in a different union, but other than the cops, fire fighters, EMS and people who work in water and sewage treatment plants, there's not a city employee in sight. It also means no parking tickets are being written – a major city revenue source – because meter monitors work for Streets & Sanitation, not the police.

Meanwhile, the older I get the faster time moves.

It seems other-worldly that my sister, Janice, died 10 years ago next month. Her ashes are buried in my garden and, if it’s not raining, on July 30th I’ll put a candle in the ground at her final resting place, light it in the twilight, and sit on the patio recollecting totally out of sequence bits-and-bots of her, pictures frozen in my mind’s eye that may range from a day when I was five and she came home from the hospital; the ritualistic morning squabble over which radio station we listened to as we drove to U-High; her first wedding which was like living a Robert Altman film; Janice, who was maybe four at the time, kicking a neighbour in his groinular region because he kept pushing over her doll house; the last time I saw her healthy which was the weekend in 1999 she brought mother’s dog, Belle, to live with me after mom died.

Today also happens to be my father’s birthday so maybe I’m in a melancholy mood generally. Sorry for the prattle.

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