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Episode 6 of the Twenty Seventh Street Podcast is now available

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You can access Episode 6 of the Twenty Seventh Street Podcast here or from iTunes.

In this episode I visit Lorraine Wilson at Peticure Paws, located on Davenport here in Toronto, just east of Oakwood on the south side. Lorraine can be reached at (647) 989-4440. She has been grooming our Newfs for years and does a fantastic job with them. Sending out a big thank you to Lorraine for taking part in today’s podcast.

Follow Lorraine on Instagram @PETICUREPAWS

If you have any comments about this podcast or suggestions for future Twenty Seventh Street Podcasts, drop me a line:

A note on the music – intro and outro – that’s me playing a traditional tune called June Apple.



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What’s that noise?

Yesterday we had a crew of roofers here at 27th Street all day. The menagerie was not impressed. The dogs and the cats were all extremely happy to see me when I got home from work (even more than usual), and they gathered around me, with the obvious expectation that I make the banging stop.

The crew almost finished the job when darkness made it unsafe to install that last vent. I’m sure to the dogs and cats, I was the hero, as not long after I came home, the noise stopped. The menagerie likes routine. Everything has to be just so for maximum canine and feline contentment. They would much prefer we just ignore the need for a new roof.

Memphis, one of our two Newfs, won’t eat if there is noise. She just looks at me, sighs and lies down. The other day, there was a wood chipper in operation next door as the builder who bought the place took down the apple tree in the back yard in preparation for his re-building project. I put out doggy dinners on the deck as usual. Georgie didn’t care about the noise. He was prepared to eat his dinner and Memphis’ dinner as well. I brought Memphis’ food back inside, waited until the chipper stopped, then invited her back out on the deck to eat. Yesterday, I simply delayed food for the whole gang until the roofers left.

Construction-type noise has become the norm around here, unusual because since we moved here a number of years ago, our neighbourhood has been very quiet. There are three homes under construction which I can see out my window as I type. The construction guys typically show up at 7 and work at least until dark. By re-doing the roof, we added to the noise for a day. I suppose the best thing is for all the construction that’s going to happen, happens at once, so it is over as quickly as possible.

Aside from the roof work, I’m aware that I have added to the neighbourhood noise – at least during the nice weather – by playing my banjo on the front porch. When I started doing this, I figured it would be a short-lived activity, and if the neighbours didn’t like it, I was ready to take my banjo back inside. So far, there haven’t been any complaints, and in fact several people have told me they enjoy hearing it. Maybe banjo is a healthy antidote to construction? In my own little brain, I’d like to think so.

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Fifteen Dogs – a brief review

A lot has been said and written about Fifteen Dogs by Andre Alexis. After all, it did recently capture the Giller prize. I should say that I dislike awards shows in general, and mostly dismiss them as glitzy commercials. I did watch the Giller show though. After all, this was a contest all about Canadian literature, and that is something special enough that not even an awards show, albeit an unusual one, could diminish.

The finalists all seem like super-interesting books, but by the time the show was over, my note to self was to read Fifteen Dogs as soon as possible. Yesterday Tuffy P bought a copy for me, and just a short while ago I finished gobbling it up.

The premise of the story is simple enough. Two gods mess with the lives of fifteen dogs, all staying overnight at a vet clinic in Toronto. On a bet, the dogs are given the intelligence of humans. The bet asks the question, will any of them die happy?

We follow the adventures of the 15, follow their relationships with other dogs and with people, follow their lives and follow their deaths. We learn how the dogs, with their elevated level of understanding and language skills, understand and relate to humans and how they deal with their own suddenly altered dog-ness.

What a thoughtful and inventive book, and as a bonus, it’s a page-turner. I simply could not put it down. Fifteen Dogs gets my highest recommendation. It’s among the best novels I’ve read in years.

Maybe this year, I’ll read all the finalists and the winner of the Giller. On that list, next up will be Arvida by Samuel Archibald, translated by Donald Winkler. That however, will have to wait, as I interrupted The Colony of Unrequited Dreams by Wayne Johnston in order to gobble up Fifteen Dogs.

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The best whiskey?

A Canadian rye whiskey has been named the whiskey of the year in Jim Murray’s whiskey bible – Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye. That surprises me. I know Canadian whiskey makers have been upping the ante on quality whiskies, but in my little imagination, even the best rye can’t possibly be as good as a fine single malt like Superstition or Highland Park.

Still, I’m willing to suspend my disbelief and I’ll be looking for this swanky whiskey at my local booze store, and I’ll give it a try, purely for scientific purposes. Maybe I’ll do some taste comparisons with the bottle of Superstition currently populating my booze cupboard.

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Canadian Tire Hot Sauce

Today I wandered into my local Canadian Tire store, shopping for things like house paint, cat litter, and a few other things I needed for around the house, when what did I come across but a display for Portuguese hot sauce. How strange is that? Pretty Strange. IMG_4715.jpg

It comes from Cambridge Ontario so Portugallo is maybe not the most authentic brand. On the other hand, it says right on the label that it tastes great on anything, and I like anything that tastes good on anything, anytime.

Naturally I bought a bottle. The ingredient list looks pretty good. I hope it really is tasty!

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The Changing Face of Twenty Seventh Street: Part 4

The pair of three story, tall and narrow homes at the severed 2 Twenty Seventh Street property are standing now, and they are working on some stonework.

Meanwhile across the street at 6, the builder who bought the place destroyed all of Alma’s beautiful shrubs and took down all the trees with the exception of one poplar tree to make room for the giant pit in which he is putting the foundation of the over-sized bungalow he has planned.

So far, the other home he bought, the modest bungalow at 4, where Ottie used to live, has not yet been touched. The builder has successfully severed this property. It seems the OMB adjudicator didn’t think this severance, next to the one at 2, was a problem. I disagree with that decision, which I consider to be nothing short of outrageous.

Meanwhile there is now activity next door to the south of us at 9 Twenty Seventh.


This spruce was taken down on that property today. The guy who bought Nick’s place wants to take the second front yard spruce down as well as the Larch which is close to the property line with our place, but so far, Forestry has not allowed it. I’m not concerned about the larch, which I think is suffering from competition with the huge silver maple and the spruces.

The guy who bought Nick’s place initially planned to try for a severance, but backed away from that idea and is now looking at a large single-family home. It looks like it is nicely designed, and in my view will add some stability to a neighbourhood under seize by developers seeing gold in them thar hills, severing all the big lots they can get hold of.

My only worry with this construction is the protection of the line of spruces running back into the yard on our side of the property line. He wants to run a driveway all the way to the back and construct a garage at the back of the property. He will not be able to excavate much for the drive as he has to try to protect our trees. As well, he plans to put the garage on piers to protect the tree routes. As long as he makes every effort to protect our trees, I’m OK with his plans. Forestry has apparently given him the go-ahead.



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Basketeers – drop-off day



Basketeers supports women in new beginnings. Tuffy P has been supporting this initiative for several years by putting together robust baskets filled with all kinds of things women starting a new life might need.


I was on delivery duty this morning. They’re very well organized with a team of volunteers who unload the baskets and take them inside. I was there fairly early this morning but already there was a wonderful assortment of generous baskets lining the tables.


Basketeers has grown from the original group covering the GTA to 10 additional chapters in Stratford, Ottawa, York, Hamilton, Brantford, Guelph, Penticton and Montreal. In fourteen years we have grown from the original group of Basketeers, each with their own drop off locations, all on the same day.

In GTA Basketeers supports numerous shelters helping women in our area.

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June Apple

I’ve been thinking about the tune June Apple. Here’s Zepp playing an amazing version. What a super-fine player. He seems so relaxed and nonchalant (not to mention un-smiling) about the whole thing.


This one is usually played in the key of A, and it’s a standard in the old time repertoire.

And here are Kurt Sutphin and Riley Baugus. When they refer to Tommy’s house, they mean Tommy Jarrell the great musician who lived in Toast NC. .

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Ramona Jones RIP

Ramona Jones, who for many years worked with her husband, the late Grandpa Jones, was a really great old time musician. I just read in this excellent obit that she passed this week at 91. RIP.

Let’s listen to Ramona singing There’s Better Times a Comin’. I do believe that the fabulous banjo picker she has with her on this performance is Cathy Barton Para.