Today’s Menu: Leftovers

About a month ago, Dan at No Facilities introduced the concept of Thursday Door Soup … a mix of random leftovers that could hopefully blend into a flavourful Thursday Door post.

For me, Soup Day is today.  With one wing clipped, it’s not very wise for me to venture out with my camera to discover anything new, so I have to dip into my library for past treasures that never made it to a post on their own.

There have been many lovely buildings I’ve found over the past few months, but haven’t invested the time to learn about their history, so their attention-worthy doors sit in my library as anonymous orphans.

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Dan?  Did you notice the crane?  This one is for you!

There has been the rare building that’s undergone extensive research by me, but its story continues to remain a mystery.

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Some wonderful old buildings have been researched, but I simply haven’t felt the inspiration to write about them.

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Toronto Club – the oldest private club in Canada

But some doors don’t really have a potential story at all, they just caught my fancy while I was passing by.

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It’s soup day in my corner of the blogosphere and I hope it warmed you, if even just a little. For door offerings more substantial than *soup*, visit Norm 2.0 – the host of the weekly photo feature, Thursday Doors.  Follow the little blue frog to an entire international menu of great doors.

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… and so the week begins.

Just when I’m starting to feel a certain amount of cabin fever from being stuck at home convalescing, the Universe sends me entertainment right outside my front door to amuse me.

Bell Canada has been busy in our area for the past many weeks laying fibre optic cable and today they finally arrived on our very quiet street.

No one comes down this street unless they live here, or are visiting, so any distraction that arrives has been a welcome one.  In other words, I’ve been channeling my inner Gladys Kravitz from Bewitched.

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Gladys – found on Pinterest

Trucks have been rumbling up and down the street since early this morning, and finally around mid-afternoon, the large boring vehicle pulled up in front.  My preoccupation with machinery that drills holes in the ground is a testament to my general level of restlessness.

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As the light started to fail, work on the street eventually came to halt.

… but shortly afterwards, then there was a very loud banging on our front door.

I was confronted by flashing lights on the street and one of several firemen going door to door advising us that the gas line was “nicked” during the excavation.  The sharp smell of gas was palatable from the moment I opened the door.

We were advised to keep all windows and doors closed (uh …. it’s cold outside, dude, so no problem).

Our street was then blocked off in both directions from our house.  Hmmm – should I now start to be concerned?

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Street blocked off by police and fire vehicles

A short while ago, there was more loud banging on the door … this time it’s one of the repair guys from the gas company.

Did I know there was a gas leak?”  Yes.

We’re going to have to turn off the gas.”  Good plan.  I support it.

Our furnace is gas.  Our stove is gas.  Our fireplace is gas.

It’s going to get chilly in here soon … but I rather like the idea of keeping the house intact – not to mention all my body parts that aren’t already broken.

So it seems that even when I’m stuck at home, lying low, minding my own business (or some version of it), trouble still manages to find me.

How has your week started?

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Mingling Old With The New

Sorry for two posts in as many days.  I don’t normally do that, but this door post was written several days ago.  I suppose I COULD hold onto it for another week, but …. nah.

I’ve moaned and groaned more than a few times about my city’s tendency to run roughshod over heritage buildings in an effort to build one more critically important tower of concrete and glass after another (sarcasm intended).

In fairness, there have been notable exceptions and one of them resides hidden downtown within the massive 2 tower complex called Brookfield Place.

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The back end of the rebuilt former Merchants’ Bank.

Situated within the Allan Lambert Galleria is the former Midland Commercial Bank, built in 1845, and later bought by Merchants’ Bank in the late 1800s.

This was one of a dozen buildings that survived a massive downtown fire in 1904 and the waves of demolition that followed.  The facade of the Merchants’ Bank building was later dismantled from its original location and reassembled here.

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The reassembled facade of the former Merchants’ Bank within Brookfield Place

The Galleria itself is 6 stories high and this tall expanse of glass and light was given the nickname ‘Crystal Cathedral of Commerce’.  However, for me, it is not the towering glass ceiling, but the juxtapositioning of the old and new together, that makes this galleria so uniquely attractive.

I was enamored with this building-within-a-building from the first time I saw it many years ago.

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In my research, I found a couple of pre-1904 photos of the old Merchants’ Bank.

In this first photo, I was thrilled to notice that the door on the far right is the same door that’s on the re-assembled building.

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From Eric Arthur’s book:  Toronto – No Mean City

Another photo was found in a retrospective piece written to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Brookfield Place.  This “before” and “after” shows the original building at a very different angle, but the missing street lamps in the first photo are clear in this version.

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The former Merchants’ Bank is on the very far left.

As a child, I used to love those school exercises where you had to compare 2 pictures and find what’s different about them.  In fact, I still love doing that.

The most obvious difference I noted from these old photos was that the original building had a basement with windows visible behind the iron railing.  Those windows are now missing. Whether or not there is still a basement in the rebuilt bank is unknown.

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I think this door would look lovely on my house.  Now, how to sneak it past the security guards …?

To my surprise, I discovered that the former Merchants’ Bank is only one of twelve heritage buildings contained with Brookfield Place. It seems that I will have several more reasons to revisit this massive complex.

Thursday Doors is a weekly photo feature hosted by Norm Frampton at Norm 2.0.

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November: Never A Dull Moment

I wrote that title somewhat sarcastically.  “Never a dull moment” should be about fun stuff, but that’s not how I’m going to remember this month.

It’s not as if the weather wasn’t unusually warm for November, allowing for many pleasant outings.  It was, and I have no complaints there.

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Trinity Square Park

Nor am I going to complain about the unreasonably early arrival of Christmas hype that has been bubbling up everywhere.  This shopaholic hasn’t been feeding her credit card this month.

Hospitals however, were a different matter.  I’ve made numerous trips to various hospitals this month. Have you paid the fees in a hospital parking lot lately?  Holy Sticker-Shock.

Son #2 did in fact break his foot earlier this month, as I wrote about here.  With his left foot now in a Boot Cast and unable to drive his manual shift car, Mom had to step up to the plate and trade cars with him.

I’m not sure who was more nervous – me, driving a standard in city traffic for the first time since my 20s – or Misha, having his very rusty mother driving his almost-new car.

I saw my life flash in front of my eyes a few times, but nothing that a glass of wine couldn’t later smooth out.

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Grainy photo taken with my phone

… but any whining I might have done was short-lived.

While we were attending a Fracture Clinic for Misha in a downtown hospital one week, the following week in a different Fracture Clinic at a north-end hospital, I learned my collarbone was not doing what it was supposed to be doing – ie healing into a bone more solid than a pretzel stick.

It’s been five. freaking. months.

Surgery was scheduled, and 10 days later I had the dubious honour of contributing to our family’s unorthodox tradition of collecting scars and internal hardware.  The problematic bone was reset and a plate put in to secure it.

With my arm back in a sling and 18 staples in my shoulder, I’ve joined Misha on the Disabled List for the holiday season.  How ironic that he will have to return to Toronto to take me to my follow-up appointment in 2 weeks while Gilles is away … because now I can’t drive at all.

We are quite a pathetic pair.

But back to lovely November … I hope you’ll enjoy these beautiful autumn sights from downtown Toronto and be grateful I didn’t include a photo of my ugly staples.

This post is part of the Changing Seasons series.  It is a monthly photo feature hosted by Cardinal Guzman.

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A House, A School, and the Law Society

As I was poking around in my photo library, I realized I have been hoarding doors – for no particular reason, it’s just that I’ve been downtown a lot lately and that usually means seeing a lot of great old buildings.

The doors have started to pile up and I guess it’s time to share some of them.  So this is just another random offering of great doors I’ve encountered in the last few weeks.

First up is a gate at Osgoode Hall, a building which dates back to 1829.  Osgoode Hall currently houses, among other things, the Ontario Court of Appeal and the offices of the Law Society of Upper Canada (ie Ontario).

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The gates are actually very narrow to pass through.  According to Wikipedia, there is a long-standing myth that the gates were designed to keep wandering livestock off the property.  Apparently in the 1950s, some students challenged the myth by trying to pass a cow through one of the gates … but they failed.   I’m not surprised.

Next on the tour, is the St Michael’s Choir School.  I discovered this building quite by accident and simply loved everything about it … from the gorgeous entryway, to the clock on the mini-tower, and the *crown* of crosses.

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St Michael’s Choir School is a Catholic all-boy’s school which offers both a music and academic program.  Getting your child accepted to St Mike’s is not easy.  Admission is by audition only.

Lastly on today’s tour is a pair of doors from a row of old homes built in the late 1800s. The slightly curving stone stairs were the first thing to catch my attention, but these wooden doors are wonderful, even if they are very weathered.  It looks like the bottom panels need attention before they become unsalvageable.

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Sadly, in this neighbourhood there were several old heritage homes that have become quite derelict.  They are sitting on prime real estate and I fear that in a year from now, they will be gone.

Ok – I lied, one more door … this is from one of the derelict buildings which was all boarded up with a barrier installed at the bottom of the stairs to prevent access to the door.

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This door is lovely and I hope it will be saved.

Thursday Doors is a weekly feature hosted by Norm Frampton at Norm 2.0.

 

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Where Is Home?

When I was still quite young, living with my parents, I asked my mom if she missed her home. You see, my mother was a war bride from the Netherlands who came to Canada in 1946 after marrying my father.

Every winter she never hesitated to express her extreme dislike for the snow and cold temperatures.

She mourned that Northern Ontario had no “spring” and would leap from winter to summer with only a short interlude of slush and mud.  Trees and shrubs seemed to transform overnight from naked to fully dressed.

And summer?  Mosquitoes, black flies, and other little flying vampires made the outdoors an itchy miserable existence.  I was quite confident that my mom hated Canada and would have liked a do-over.

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Lake Commando, Cochrane

Her response however surprised me.

She pointed out that she had – at that point – lived in Canada far longer than she had ever lived in Holland.  This was her home … and no, she never thought about going back.  Her life was here.

She then gave a long description of what she loved about her home in Canada … besides her family and friends …. she listed the fresh northern air, abundant clean water, wide open spaces, and the relaxed easy-going lifestyle.  These were all things she felt her original homeland was lacking.

That conversation came back to me recently and its relevance to my own life came into focus.

I’ve always thought of myself as a Northerner first.  Although I never returned to the North after I left home to attend university in the South (I know some of you will find any reference to Canada as “south” to be funny),  I still felt like I was a Northerner at the core.

My childhood and formative years were spent in the North.  I believed that experience created a unique DNA that would never change – figuratively speaking, of course.

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This summer I was back in my hometown for a class reunion.  My classmates and I were all turning 60 this year and came together to celebrate this important milestone.  On that visit, as I spent many hours catching up with both old and new high school friends, I realized that I had lived away from my hometown for MORE than DOUBLE the number of years I actually lived there.

Later that same weekend, I spent an afternoon with my younger-older brother.  He toured me around all the back country roads, sharing all the local ‘landmarks’ that everyone seemed to know, but I had somehow missed in the years I lived there.

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Ferry crossing the Abitibi River.  In the winter, this becomes an ice road.  I knew it existed but I had never seen it … nor do I think I could ever find it again.

I discovered that my hometown was a place I didn’t know at all.  I must have been sleepwalking for the 19 years I lived there.  In my defense, teenagers tend to be oblivious anyway, and perhaps I was worse than most.

However, it really hit me this past weekend as I was buzzing around downtown Toronto … I wasn’t a Northerner at all – not any more.  I am a city girl to the core and Toronto is my home.

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 Approaching twilight at Nathan Phillips Square, City Hall

As I zipped up and down familiar streets, this feeling of being home wasn’t simply because this is where I currently live, but because this is where the vast majority of my adult memories lived.  The streets had landmarks that meant something to me.

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Toronto Dance School – formerly St Enoch’s Presbyterian Church (1891)

It’s unlikely I will ever move away from Toronto – at least not any time soon.  However, if I ever do, it will be interesting to discover whether my new concept of *home* will remain here … this place where I married, where my sons were born, and where we grew together as our own family unit.

Either way, one thing I know for sure is that I’m at home right now.  My memories recognized it much sooner than I did.

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A Piece Of My Past Gets Erased

I’m noticing that as I get older, I’m deriving more comfort from reminders of the past. Whether it’s familiar sights, music, foods … they all bring back memories of a time when I was young and had a lifetime ahead of me.

So I guess it was inevitable that I would find myself back in one of the neighbourhoods where I lived before my life as a parent began.

Back in September, I wrote about the area of the city I lived in when I first moved to Toronto.  You can find that post here.  From that sleazy area, I then moved into one of the most exclusive neighbourhoods in the cities.

Toronto Life magazine once described Rosedale as “a locale of choice for multimillionaire urbanites”.

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Just down the street from my former apartment, I would happily call this beauty, home.  Santa?  Are you listening?

Not that I was (or am) a multimillionaire … just a wannabe who lucked into an amazing deal of an apartment in an old 3-storey Victorian home.

My roommate – a coworker – and I had the entire 3rd floor attic which had been converted into a very large 2 bedroom apartment.  I felt like I had moved into a fairy tale.  We were young, extremely ambitious, and knew how to play hard.  That 3rd floor walk-up fueled our dreams of the future.

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I’m pretty sure I was meant to live somewhere like this.  I need to have a talk with my financial planner.  There’s clearly been a mistake.

I hadn’t been back in the old ‘hood since I moved out over 30 years ago (it’s frightening to be talking about decades ago when reminiscing), but imagine my surprise when I discovered my former home was gone.

Yes. Gone.  Erased …. like a piece of my history never existed.

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It was a corner lot on a triangular piece of land and it now appears that the neighbouring home annexed the property and converted it into a parking lot to expand their backyard.

Of course, the apartment building I later moved into was still there.  The squat, ugly building somehow managed to survive, while the beautiful Victorian did not.

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If there is a lesson in here somewhere, I’m not seeing it yet.

 

 

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More Monkey Business

The Year of the Monkey continues on its disruptive path through my life.

Not content with wrecking my Big 60 travel plans, costing me literally thousands of dollars in repairs and replacements of various failed devices this year, and tripping my husband’s health at every turn, this time that little monkey bastard took a swipe at son #2.

Misha has already seen more than his fair share of emergency rooms -not including an unhappy childhood altercation with a hive of angry wasps.

Five years ago he had a less-than-graceful landing while snowboarding and broke his hip. At the tender age of only 23, he was having conversations with the surgeon about possibly needing a hip replacement.

Thankfully they were able to repair the damage and virtually guarantee (with fingers crossed) that it would be at least 20 years before hip replacement might be required.

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Post-surgery February 2011

While still on crutches with a recovering hip, he tripped and fell … this time breaking the heel of his foot.  Bone chips embedded in his Achilles tendon could not be safely removed with surgery and he was told it was unlikely he would be able to continue running.

… but Misha had other plans.  He became a Spartan athlete.

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July 2016

So this latest unexpected excursion to the nearest emergency room came a huge surprise. It turns out this Spartan warrior is still not indestructible.

Misha was attending the wedding of a friend and after an evening of happy celebration, he twisted his foot descending a set of stairs.

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The lump on his heel are the renegade bone chips from his fall in 2011.

With a foot that is several shades of swollen and bruised, the x-ray was inconclusive. We have our fingers crossed that the follow-up with the Fracture Clinic this week will rule out anything serious and that this will be a quick recovery.

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Still looking all GQ the morning after a night in Emergency

In the meantime, I had hoped those crutches gathering dust downstairs in the basement for the past 5 years would never be needed again.  With mixed feelings, they were pushed back into service.

I hope that obnoxious little Monkey is proud of himself, because I’ve had enough.

Go. Away.

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Thursday Doors: Searching For History

The afternoon of All Hallows’ Eve found me wandering solo through the streets of downtown Toronto with my camera in hand, looking for inspiration.

No, I wasn’t looking for people in outlandish costumes, although I did see many of those. Living in a large city however, that’s not necessarily unusual at any time of year.

I was on a quest to find more of Toronto’s heritage buildings and it was a very successful venture.  Today, I feature one of those treasures.

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A side entrance

The Metropolitan United Church was built in 1872, and you wouldn’t know it from my photo, but apparently it was built with white brick.  I would have said it was probably yellow not white, but what do I know, except that the daily grime of a city starts to build up on everything.

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The front doors

I’m assuming the wire mesh over the 3 upper windows of the main entrance was intended to prevent pigeons from roosting there, but the mesh does not detract from the gorgeous view from the inside.

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Luckily I was in this area while the church was open because once inside, I was delighted to find a trio of beautiful doors in the entrance.

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From the inside looking towards the main entrance

The body of the church had a stunning display of stained glass windows lining both sides of the building.  No, you won’t find any photos of those windows here.  My photography skills aren’t even remotely good enough to do them justice.

As spectacular as the windows were, it was the backdrop to the altar (do they call it an altar in the Methodist church?)  that captured my attention as soon as I stepped inside.

In spite of how it looks, I did not lay on the floor to take this photo.  It is common to have the chancel raised from the congregation, but this one was much higher than I’ve ever seen before.

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Hope you’re impressed by my use of the word “chancel”.  It’s a new one for me and I was eager to take it out for a bit of exercise.

Apparently the Metropolitan United Church boasts the largest pipe organ in Canada, but unfortunately I did not get to see it.  Nor was I able to visit the carillon which would have been very impressive. A typical carillon holds 23 bells, but the Metropolitan has 54 bells.

I did however find the narrow door leading to the carillon tower.

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A tiny door to where musical magic is created

You might be wondering why a fallen Catholic like me, a self-proclaimed agnostic, is interested in poking around old churches.

They provide fascinating touch points in a city’s historical time line.

Canada, as a country, was a mere 5 years old when this church was built.  Toronto wasn’t much more than a large, muddy town.  When viewed through the eyes of the time period, the construction of buildings like this one would have been magnificent to the citizens of the day for the authority and grandeur they represented.  In fact, they still do today.

It makes the current sprouting of plain glass and concrete condo buildings everywhere pale in comparison.

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Thursday Doors is a weekly photo feature hosted by Norm Frampton at Norm 2.0.

 

Posted in Around Toronto, history, Photo Challenges, Random Stuff, Things I Like, Thursday Doors | Tagged , , , , , , | 94 Comments

Thursday Doors: A Bunch Of Randomness

It’s been a few weeks since I last participated in Thursday Doors, so this week I thought I’d dust off some random door photos I’ve accumulated.

There was just so much to like about this first one in Prague … arched doorway, decorative transom, ornate door frame, studs on the door, … and the little peephole, netted for security.

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Prague – 2014

This second one isn’t really a door, but a doorway, so I think it counts.  It leads to the library within the North Wing of Queen’s Park, the Ontario Legislature.

The origins of this library go back to 1792 – 25 years before Canada became a country.  By the turn of the 20th century, the Legislative Library had one of the most important reference collections in Canada… probably not as impressive as it sounds since Canada was pretty much still a wilderness back then.

Unfortunately, in 1909, a fire destroyed the entire library and most its contents.  It was subsequently rebuilt with a view to fireproofing the new wing.  Apparently it was successful because a second fire in 2009 resulted in only minor damage.

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Found in the small town of Creemore north of Toronto was the modest St John’s United Church.  A Door + Autumn Colours + Heritage Building = Triple Bonus!

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This plain, wide-planked wooden door was the entrance to SS2 Schoolhouse in Whitchurch-Stouffville, now the site of a museum.  The rope on the left is still attached to the bell in the small bell-tower on top of the school.

Yes – we rang it.  Yes – it still works.

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Schoolhouse SS2  – 1870

This last door is one of my favourite recent finds.  If you look closely, there is actually a wire fence attached to that gate.  The incongruence* of it made me laugh.

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Bordering the Milne Dam Conservation Area

Thursday Doors is a weekly photo feature hosted by Norm Frampton at Norm 2.0.  I encourage you to go have a look.  Follow the little blue frog link in Norm’s post and discover a whole world of wonderful doors.

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* I often look up words online to ensure I’ve spelled them correctly and / or used them appropriately in my sentence.   Today I looked up “incongruence” because WordPress didn’t like this word.

The results that came back from my search were – shall we say – odd.

Incongruence is in fact a real word, but that doesn’t mean you should use it.”  … hmmm, you don’t know me, because now I’m totally going to use it.

All explanations of the second form of incongruence from the point of view of a phyletic force464 can also be shown to be absurd.”  … Whaaat?  Are you talking to me?

… and in case you’re wondering, the second quote apparently originates from “Studies in the Theory of Descent: On the seasonal dimorphism of butterflies”.  I just knew you had to know that critical piece of information.

… and WordPress doesn’t like “dimorphism” either.

… and I’ve managed to make the whole post random and not just the doors.

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