I decided to split my biography between two volume because I could see a couple of problems in speaking openly about more recent events in my life. Volume one covers my life up to my early thirties and I have nothing to hide with this. I see no problem with anyone reading any of it because it was so long ago that it's like writing in the third person it's all so remote. Volume two is quite different. It reads like somebody's private diary and I have no interest in exposing sensitive secrets or stepping on people's sensitivities. This does take a lot of pressure off me now that I don't have to worry about insulting anybody and I can concentrate on the writing.
Here is Volume ll
which is password protected
Near the end of my time at Imperial Optical I started going out with a beautiful dark haired girl called Tazmina. She was from Mozambique and spoke Portuguese a language I very much love to listen to. It's the language of Brazil and my favourite girl singer Astrud Gilberto. At first she spoke just about no english at all but we learned to communicate quite fast. I was Thirty Two, she was eighteen and she had a very spirited personality which I always seemed to gravitate to. She came over to my place a few times and I enjoyed her company immensely. We went to a few restaurant, took a few drives but that was about it. I remember her very fondly. She was very much into working at a Portuguese language radio station but last I heard she was working at a bank. She gave me that little Portuguese rooster symbol thing. And for a long time after I enjoyed the ethnic scent of a plastic bag that she left at my place. I really didn't get enough of her but you know – that's sometimes better that way.
After that I met Karen who worked in the Imperial Optical accounting department. She was nineteen and we hit it off quite well. I went up to her apartment in the Yonge and Eglinton area. And she often came over to my little bachelor place at Main Square with the wood panelling on the walls and the carpet on the wall, Russian style. I was trying to get away from the apartment look. It was not long after I met Karen that I quit Imperial to start my own freelance business working out of my apartment.
For a break one weekend we rented a Chevy Camero and drove to Tadoussac where my Mom worked as a chambermaid at the famous Tadoussac hotel right after she arrived from Scotland. We had a lunch there. And we also drove up to Chicoutimi to camp in the rain listening to fog horns on the St. Lawrence and listened to the sound of animals fighting just outside our tent. It's wasn't nice and I still repel at the thought of camping.
Eventually we decided to buy a house together and we found something workable at 8 Fairmount Avenue in the Woodbine and Gerrard area. She was still at Imperial and I was freelancing my twenty hours a week so I had plenty of time to do renovation work on the house. I did a lot of repairs on the oak stairway and put in a couple of skylights as well as sliding glass doors from the kitchen to the yard. I actually went down to city hall to get a permit for this. After a few years we got married at St Aiden's church just along Queen from where I live today. We had the reception in our backyard. Everyone from both families were there and it was a good time. In 1983 Ashley was born and I could see right away that she was quite the little life force. I was right there for the birth and it was a cesarean delivery. In those days it was unusual to have the husband there for that kind of birth and it didn't seem to be going that well. I don't know how I didn't pass out as there was a lot of blood and they had to sew up some organ that looked like a big red eggplant outside of the body. They seemed to be losing track of all the clamps or sponges or something.
I don't think it was normal and the way the nurses and doctors were looking at me as if to say get him out of here made me wonder if they knew what they were doing it seemed that out of control. Karen was quite out of it throughout as you'd expect as I got to hold Ashley right away. She looked very strong and heathy. Maybe this bonding time with her is some of the reason why I've always felt so close to her. When we brought her home with all the balloons from our neighbours on the front porch there was definitely a sense of a new presence in the house. I spent a lot of time with my daughter as she grew up – sort of like a stay at home dad. Looking back I think I would like to do it all over again but I also remember that at the time thinking it was so much work. Ashley had pretty bad colic so that didn't help. We liked the neighbourhood and were friends with most of them. I started playing tennis quite regularly with Wilf who lived across the street. I was forty and I was happy with my tennis game but I didn't seriously think of anything more competitive than fighting it out with my friends. It was great fun and a fantastic work out. I got rather friendly Annie, a woman across the street who was on the outs with her husband – I think mostly because she wanted to have a baby and he had some kind of physical problem with that. I think maybe she admired my relationship with my daughter which is understandably attractive for any woman. At the time Annie was a bit overweight but she started to slim down and looked very attractive to me just as Karen and I were having real problems getting along. Around that time I started to go to fitness classes with Annie.
We had a call from our real estate guy, Michael Kavluk, who said he had a listing of a house we might be interested in. I think both of us thought that this might help our relationship. It was a very unusual three story Victorian in great shape that even had a gargoyle up in the peak. It was not far away on Cassells Avenue and was reasonably priced at $96,000. It had been a rental property among a few others in that area owned by the same person. We decided to go for it. I still can't believe how much stuff we had loading up that big transport trailer which we jammed full for the move from Fairmount and had to go back for more. That's one thing about having a house – especially one that has a basement that will inevitably fill up with things you really don't need and have probably forgotten about.
51 Cassells Avenue was a much more substantial house and certainly one of the more interesting houses in the area. A real gem really. I did a lot of work on this house in an attempt to make it feel less like a rental house. It was full of plain slab doors for instance. I fixed up the hardwood floors on the first floor and sanded and stained the floor myself. It was a lot of work but there was so much more to do on the second and third floors that I didn't really get to and couldn't quite afford to pay for. Things I would have liked to do but didn't mostly because we could not afford to were to put a wooden deck on the third floor. To take out the drop ceiling on the first floor to go back to the high Victorian ceiling. It was full of ducting that had to be changed and that would be a big but not undoable job. I would have liked to build a metal stairway, like a fire escape, at the back to access what I think could be an excellent third floor apartment. The basement was also perfect for a separate apartment with a very high ceiling. Gord, the guy we eventually sold the house to did exactly that. And he built that third floor deck as well. I saw quite a bit of Annie in those days and I helped her with some renovations on a couple of houses. Together we flew down to Key West, Florida one year and we sure looked like a couple in the photos I took. We met Jim and Barb, his girlfriend at the time down there.
Karen decided to move out of Cassells with Ashley to a rental on Eastwood Avenue. Karen was out with friends one day as I took care of Ashley who quite suddenly and dramatically threw her pacifier in the trash boasting "I'm a big girl now". Another time Karen had Ashley on the kitchen counter when she suddenly fell to the floor stiking her head. We took her to East General where they said she was okay, thank goodness.
After about a year Karen wanted to sell Cassells. I didn't want to sell at the time as I was renting the top two stories to some gay guys for $800 a month and I paid I think $500 a month for the main floor which covered our costs. It was a good investment I thought but Karen wanted her own place. I had no choice but to sell and it sold pretty fast. I think we got about $140,000. Gord, the buyer worked for the TTC as a ticket collector and he also did a bit of plumbing work on the side. The house was in good hands and I think he still lives there today. He agreed to let me stay there renting the first floor for the same $500 a month.
While renting at Cassells I decided to buy a new Honda CRX two seater which I drove pretty well right away down to Florida just me. I enjoyed the time to myself. Annie and I were partners around this time and eventually I got Annie pregnant. I was not really surprised because I was quite aware how much she wanted it, but I couldn't handle the financial burden of another child. In 1992 after about a year of paying rent at Cassells I decided to buy an affordable house on 332 Woodfield Road. I paid $76,900 and after living there a year prices on comparable properties in the area were up around $200,000. I should have sold but wasn't prepared for it so soon. The prices fell right off to half that a year or so later and I ended up selling the house for about $138,000 in 1998. One day Annie dropped by looking very pregnant. As we sat on my porch on Woodfield she pleaded with me to make our relationship work with our new child. I refused and must have appeared quite cold and heartless. I also felt a bit used but willingly and even happy to be able to help her get what she so much wanted. I was confident that Annie would make a good mother to her new child, a boy, and that she could handle it financially. To be honest I just wanted to be a single guy and fool around. That may sound a bit harsh but I've never felt really attached to anyone except maybe my daughter and that's a whole lot different than a wife. Maybe it's better to leave some one this way as I have nothing but wonderful feelings for Annie. In a lot of ways I think she was perfect for me. I know she realized that it would never come to be as we agreed one day to meet every year at a certain time and date at a private place we knew of on the Leslie Street Spit. I never did show up there and I'm sure she hasn't either. So much for these romantic notions.
At the risk of sounding even more self-centered I feel I must add this: For the last year or so I had been seeing someone else, a girl who lived next door with her mother. She had a couple of kids one of them just a few months old. Lisa was half my age at twenty three and yes, sex had a lot to do with it – she was not the least bit inhibited and had a smouldering sexuality which very much appealed to me. Everywhere and anywhere was okay with her and I was like a father to her youngest daughter Amy. Lisa and I flew to Florida one year with her two girls. We rented a car there to get around. The two of us went on a long car ride in the Honda across Manitoulin Island via the big ferry Che-Cheemaun, and on to Thunderbay were we took a tour on the Arctic Express. This was another relationship that I didn't want to last forever and Lisa knew it so she was receptive when a guy next door who was renting her Mom's old place made some advances on her. Partly I was relieved that this was a way out and yet I felt a bit of withdrawal which kinda shocked me. Lisa was ready to be with both me and the other guy but I wanted none of that. It was however a whole lot easier to quit smoking.
At the time we broke up I was renting my basement apartment which I had recently finished to Lisa and her kids. She was quite reliable with the rent. When she left I rented out the main floor and moved to the basement myself. When that person left I moved upstairs and rented out the basement to someone else. I always did very well as a landlord and people who left usually gave me a nice thank you letter. It was a pretty good arrangement that paid most of my bills. I even found a way to get the city to pay for a new roof. I built a lot of new fencing in the yard including a separate yard for the basement tenant. I also put in two skylights in this house. One of them leaked pretty bad until I got the new roof. I was restless as usual after seven years at the same address so I got into a property arrangement with Ron Fletcher. What a mistake. And all I can say is it was hubris on my part.
I first met Ron on Cassells as he owned a house right next to mine and had some issues with property lines. We straightened that out and became pretty good friends and fierce tennis opponents. I'm sure he won't quite remember it this way but I usually had a bit of an upper hand over him – especially one year when I never lost a match to anyone – I played some with Wilf and a few others – until well into the fall when I lost a single match to Ron. I was quite aware of his faults – with women and in business – so I kept away from any business ideas because I knew his history. Yet I went along anyway with the Idea of a gallery/ book store at 808 Queen Street East. What was I thinking? Still there were plenty of good things about a storefront on Queen Street. We really got to be a part of the art community starting The Riverdale Art Walk and it was a more professional venue for my graphic design business. Ron could not handle being a junior partner even though he could not commit to half the work. I suggested that he could make up the difference with money which he had plenty enough of as a long time school teacher and owner of several properties. Somehow Ron thought it was okay if his contribution in time and effort was less than mine and he refused to make up the difference in money. I just could not work with him – he was pretty well useless and deep down he knew it – which I think was the reason for a lot of his psychological problems. One day Ron proposed a solution where either one of us could buy out the other. In reality only Ron could but me out but I seamed I like the best deal for getting of of this thing so I agreed. I stayed there for about a year renting out the same space to the new owner after Ron sold the place.
In 1999 I bought a white Toyota Corolla that only lasted a few months breaking down on the 400 on the way to one of Ashley's beach volleyball matches at Wasaga Beach. The guy bought the thing back for cheap. After that I bought this Ford Festiva from a Honda dealer on the Danforth. It sure looked like new, under the hood it was pristine, but it was junk that would not last. I did use this to go back and forth to see Ashley a couple of times a week in London were she was getting an education at Western. I loved taking her out for lunches and driving her Mom to see her volleyball games on the weekends. It was a good car to drive – better in some ways than my next car the white Toyota Echo. At Jim's place in Huntsville we, or more accurately Jim, put new rings in this car.
In Ashley's first year at Western I drove her down to New York City in the Festiva to show her the town. Like me she loved the city and I was not surprised when she went back there a couple of years later with Jeff, her boyfriend at the time. In her third year at Western they won the provincial championships beating out UofT. That was so exciting. She made many fast friends from her four years at Western as well as with her Beach volleyball where the highlight was as a junior Ashley along with her partner Lindsay, won the provincials at Wasaga Beach.
After the ring job on the Festiva the gas tank rotted out the next year so I traded it in for a new Toyota Echo at Downtown Toyota in the middle of winter in 2003. At least I knew I knew this car would last me a long time as I still have it ten years later. It's been a great car and much better for back and forth to London.
After Western she signed up for a two year course in graphic design at Humber Collage. I guess it's the family business now. Naturally she took to it fantastically but when she expressed any doubts I reassured her that she had an unusual collection of attributes and I very much expect her to be a star student at her school. She just naturally seemed to have a good eye, she was very ambitious, far more than I was, and she got along very well in groups thanks partly to her volleyball experience. She also knew what needed to be done. Like getting an internship at a fantastic studio in New York. That alone would be enough to get her a job which she soon got in Toronto. She also knew when to leave. Quitting her job at Evoke Solutions and getting hired on with a new ecommerce startup as art director dealing with things that she's interested in like fashion and conducting photo shoots. Then when she saw an opening at a very cool sounding studio in Manhattan run by a woman that's barely thirty and obviously talented she went for it and got it. This sounded like a great mentoring opportunity and she didn't let visas and border complications get in her way.
And I moved to a little bachelor apartment in an old Beaches brownstone, 84 Willow Avenue and I'm still here ten years later.
Ashley volleyball pic
Stan Jones I started this in 2005
2300 words Nov25-05 some edits dec 11 2013
600 Kingston Road