here and there

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Original painting by Maria Steller

This week is a (mostly) quiet week – squashed between two ‘away’ weeks.

Last week I was in Ottawa. It was so wonderful to be back in the office with my coworkers and have the chance to work together in person rather than by email or over the phone. I also had to spend in the evenings with friends that I love and miss (check out the gorgeous painting created and given to me by the talented 5 year old Maria!) and spend time at my old parish. I had so much fun. I felt like I was on a high all week.

And yet, I was equally happy to come back to the Abbey and see the sisters here.

When I first moved to Toronto, I felt a real mix of excitement and apprehension. I didn’t know what I was getting into (still don’t, frankly) and I worried that I was making a huge mistake. Being back to Ottawa last week made me realize that as much as I love that city and the people in it, it really isn’t the place where I am meant to be right now. It felt so good to visit, but I know that God is calling me to something else. It was a true gift from God to recognize that I am at peace with my decision to be in Toronto, discerning this vocation.

Next week, I go to Southdown Institute for a candidate assessment (psychological assessment). Four days of learning about my personality, and my strengths and weaknesses (I hope there will be chocolate). I’m not really looking forward to it, but it’s part of the journey and could turn out to be yet another gift.

Signs of Spring

I would like to thank the many people who have shared their support and gave me words of love and encouragement after my last post. I truly appreciate you journeying with me this year, and for supporting me. You all mean so much to me. Thank you.

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Potted arrangements for spring

Last weekend my dad was here for a visit (Hi Dad!). It was so much fun to have him visit the Abbey, meet some of the sisters (they all told him he couldn’t be my father, he looks like my brother! – I think he was secretly thrilled even though he laughed it off ), and explore the city with me. Excellent father-daughter bonding time! And he didn’t even seem too nervous having me chauffeur him around the big city. (I’ve come quite a ways since our driving lesson days – as long as I don’t have to drive a standard, of course!) But his visit certainly did make this choice I am making more real to me. No longer am I welcoming family into my own home, but to the home of many other people. The visit had a different feel than when he would visit me in Ottawa, and I think it will take a bit of time to get used to the new scenario.

DSCN0800  A splash of purple by the Abbey chapel

Spring has definitely come to Toronto in the past couple of weeks and I am enjoying every minute of it. Signs of spring abound. This past week has just been gorgeous. Beautiful sunny days and warm temperatures. I’ve been getting outside more often – exploring the neighbourhood (and making a mental note of cafes and restaurants I would like to try), and trying to get back into shape (running and tennis are back on the agenda!).

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Red celery? No idea what this is. Do you know, Master Gardener Aunt? 🙂

The grounds around the Abbey are showing their own signs of spring. From the potted plants by the entrances and exits, to the wild flowers that spring up in the grasses, new life is taking over!

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Hyacinth? They smell lovely, whatever they are!

 

 

Greektown

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Getting off at the Chester subway stop, I started my tour of Greektown. What a lively area of the city!  Lots of shops and restaurants and people on the go.

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I had been craving a gyro for lunch and decided to stop at Messini Authentic Gyros. Delicious! For $10 I had a massive (and delicious!) gyro, fries, and a drink. (I took the photo below with my phone and it doesn’t accurately capture the generous portions!)

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Thoroughly satiated (and with enough leftover to take home for dinner!), I walked along Danforth, checking out the shops and sights.

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One store I wandered into sold an assortment of Greek books, music and DVDs. I passed bakeries and supermarkets, all selling Greek products. I had a great time checking out Treasure Island Toys. Even though it really is too early in the year to be thinking of Christmas, I couldn’t resist the Christmas storefront window display.

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Despite the wet and chilly day, I really enjoyed exploring Greektown. It’s definitely on my list of places to return to soon!

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Little Portugal

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When I’d had enough of Kensington Market, I let my stomach guide me further west along Dundas Street. I was on the hunt for a much dreamed of Portuguese custard tart. Having had been lucky enough to sample a few of these beauties several years ago, I have been craving them ever since! Luckily, I didn’t have too far to go. Dotted along Dundas are a few outlets of the Caldense Bakery. I stopped inside to sample a tart and warm up with a coffee. I enjoyed the tart so much that I decided I couldn’t keep the gustatory pleasure to myself so I picked up some up for the sisters.

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I continued along Dundas, further into the heart of Little Portugal. What a charming neighbourhood! It was such a treat to see Portuguese signs and advertisements in store windows. It really was like being transported to Portugal (not that I’ve ever been!!), minus the warm weather and sandy beaches. There were many restaurants and cafes that I would like to return to and test out. I also passed many boutiques offering formal gowns and evening wear, should I ever been in need. I should have picked up a sparkly number for the jubilee celebrations!

I finished my exploration of Little Portugal at Dufferin Street and navigated my way to the subway. After a longer than anticipated walk up to Bloor, I happily collapsed onto the subway seat to rest up for the last leg of my Saturday journey.

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Kensington Market

I recently had a free Saturday to do some exploring in Toronto (my first since I arrived!) and I took full advantage of it. Despite the somewhat gloomy wet weather, I set off for parts unknown. First stop: Kensington Market. I had heard many great things about this neighbourhood – the eclectic shops, multicultural cuisine to be tried, and interesting artwork and architecture. To get there, I had to battle with the TTC and subway closures. After a combination of subway, shuttle bus, and hoofing it, I arrived at my destination.

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I popped into the interesting shops, including the Blue Banana Market, which has a diverse assortment of wares. Kitchen gadgets, handmade hats, scarves and socks, children’s toys, gourmet foods, novelty items, candles, bath products. The list goes on. Even though I emerged empty-handed, I was toasty warm and ready to check out the other sights.

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As I wandered the streets, I came across a series of fantastic metal art adorning a front lawn, including a Vespa scorpion and other unlikely creatures!

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