Toronto, Home Sweet Home

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When I first started this crazy life (the writing in 1990; business in 1996) the Earthdress Productions office used to be a little room in an old 1888 Farmhouse, smack in the heart of Virgil, Ontario. It was a move back to the place where I had grown up, after three years of living in Oakville, where I had attended Sheridan College, for Book Illustration. Eventually, there was talk in our family of selling the nursery/garden center/ rose farm (where I had grown up) and I made the move into Toronto a year prior to the sale, in 2000. This is a picture of the Virgil office.
When I first moved into the old pie-factory-cake-decorating warehouse in Toronto's east end, it wasn't live-able. 850 square feet of total wreckage and poor construction basically describes the place. The toilet was cracked in two places and needed replacing. The shower was a vinyl leaning tower of Pisa. There was no fridge, stove or kitchen shelving. The kitchen sink was thrown into a hole cut into a length of plywood perched on 4 x 4's. You could rock the counter about 2 inches either way.
If I disappeared for a while between 2000 -2001 it was because I was learning (by trial and error) how to frame, dry-wall and plaster a wall, pour a concrete shower base, build closets and lofts, and use roofing aluminum to make kitchen counters. I discovered that my favorite power tool was the grinder, which I used to clean up the heavy rust on an old iron ladder for the guest sleeping loft. This was accomplished on the roof of the building with the help of next-door neighbor Paul, who sometimes lent me tools. The spray of orange and red sparks with the Toronto skyline in the background was almost "beer commercial" quality. These two pictures are the "before" and "after" shots of the hallway. (You can see the ladder if you look closely.)
The slapped-together bathroom got an over-haul with some new carpentry, shelving, paint, and a brand new toilet and shower.
I used a lot of roofing aluminum for things like counters, and the shower "surround."
See Above.
When I first moved in, the room I ended up making into a bedroom had been a painting studio for the previous tenant.
I ripped out a wall, moved it over by 3 feet, and then built a sleeping loft for guests, accessible by ladder, with Japanese-style sliding doors to connect the two spaces. Closet space was built underneath.
Because you can never get enough storage space in a loft situation like this, I built the bed high off the floor, with a stool to climb up. It's a tiny but cozy space, perfect for drinking tea and writing.
Some friends of mine came to hang out, and tear down a wall or two. (Photo by Roxy Tadeja)
See Above.
Here are a few "before renovation" shots, of the larger space beyond the bedrooms and bath, the kitchen area, with the hall leading to the front door.
It took about a year and a half for everything to be finished.
I lost most of my "bad" fear of power tools, retaining my healthy "respect" after the skil saw jammed once or twice, I accidentally cut into a metal straight-edge, and shaved a centimeter off the edge of my nice teak dining table. I still have all my fingers. (Photo by Roxy Tadeja)
The finished kitchen.
I LOVE plywood. I found the old shelving on a garbage pile outside of a studio on Carlaw Ave.
One of the compact office spaces, with the second work area on the far wall.
I used "natural core" plastic in combination with 2x4 framing to create privacy screening that lets the sunlight through.
See above.
A nice hanging out area with offices on the left.
The three windows in this loft are one of the best features. The wide windowsills are a great place for growing herbs and bright red geraniums.
There's a great view of downtown Toronto.
Taking a tea break, covered in dust, after a hard day of dry wall sanding.
The roof garden just outside of Paul's unit where some moss is being tenderly cared for.
Former neighbors Nathan and Lidija, Amanda (one of the roommates who used to share the space) and myself, at our New Years party. (Photo by Paul)
I've fallen in love with Toronto not just because it's so accessible to out-of-town visitors and touring musicians who need a place to stay, but also because there are so many cultures represented. I regularly do my food shopping in both the east and west China towns, for fun Asian cooking experiments. Singer/songwriter Tom Conlon came up to Toronto for some winter vacation and I took him around to the variety of Chinese dried goods stores on Spadina Ave. Here, he's checking out the dried sea cucumber, which I told him were sun-dried bull penises'. (Photo by Rachel Popadic)
One of my favorite places to get Hot and Sour Soup is the "Lucky Dragon" near Spadina and College. I'm serving it up for some guests in this shot. (Photo by Rachel)

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