the bakeries of 118th ave



It's two years this month since we moved into this house, and so far I've done a terrible job of exploring the neighborhood. I've complained that my precious self has felt isolated, out here with the mall rats in the blue-collar boonies, but I've never done very much to make myself at home. I've never, for instance, taken myself out to discover 118th ave, exactly the kind of gritty, colourful, mixed commercial and residential zone I go on about. It's only 8 blocks away. Wednesday morning I left the house with the idea that I would go and find the cafes and Portuguese bakeries that supposedly line the street.

I went alone. I have spent whole years too inhibited to embark on this kind of solo expedition. Not Wednesday.  I put on a lot of wool: black wool dress, sweater, peacock cardigan, blue toque, Ethiopian scarf. It was only -5 C, and the city was filthy. I had a childish feeling of being small and curious and interested and hopeful--a red boots feeling, and my black beetle boots do actually have red buttons . . . This L-theanine is magic.

I found two Portuguese bakeries and bought cookies and fig jam at Popular Bakery, and egg tarts and bread at Handy Bakery. I went into the Mexican grocery store, made note of a pho place and a barber shop (in case I ever get another buzz cut, Sinead-style), and ended up at The Carrot, which is a volunteer-run cafe and arts centre, opened as part of the 118th revitalization effort. It's lovely there. Paintings covering the walls, a piano in the corner. They were playing CBC radio. An older couple was running the counter (the woman asked me if I minded that their biscotti weren't hard biscotti, and the man told me I should probably stir my hot chocolate). I've been wondering if I should see about volunteering there myself. It would be good to have something close to home. At very least, I now have a cafe to write in and no-need-to-cross-the-river.