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All In Hand

Thanks, rabble.ca!

Miss Vicky Sat Sep 17, 2005

Apparently the fine folks at rabble.ca liked my post about the Take backthe Night march - it's being promoted on their front page as the "blog of the week". This is quite an honour, I have to say. I've been a regular rabble.ca reader since its launch in April 2001 (at the Quebec City Summit of the Americas) and an active participant in their babble discussion board (although less active since I started blogging, I must admit). rabble.ca is a great source of progressive news and opinion - a go-to place for leftish thought in Canada. It's also a great community - through babble I've met some amazing people, both on-line and in person, have forged some strong friendships and developed a nationwide network that would be difficult to develop otherwise. So it was especially sweet to receive the kudos - and the plug!

This weekend along Wellington

Miss Vicky Fri Sep 16, 2005

Lots to do this weekend! Here's your Kitchissippi roundup:

September 17 & 18: Last chance to check out the West End Studio Tour!

September 17 - Parkdale Market Harvest Festival.
12-3pm in the park behind the Market: games and activites for kids, Apple Pie and Cookie baking contest (bakers bring your entry to the table by 12:30), and more!
Evening: Carleton Street Dance

While you're there, take a stroll westward down Wellington for the West Wellington Business Association's Harvest Arts Festival. The've got all kinds of stuff lined up - music, buskers, food, readings and so on.

Between the studio tour and the two Harvest Festivals, Saturday is a perfect day for the Wellington Shuffle.

September 18: learn about our 'hood on the Hintonburg Heritage Walk. Meet at St. Francoise-d'Assise Parish Church (Wellington at Fairmont) at 2pm. Tour is $5 for members of Heritage Ottawa; $10 for non-members.


Knitters unite!

Miss Vicky Thu Sep 15, 2005

Knit it!
This top comes via textile maven, designer and blogger extraordinaire Miss Twiss. Participation in this interactive art piece is easy - just put on a dark suit, white shirt, red tie and haul yourself down to the Hill to knit something white with a crowd.

Here's the info:

World Wide Exhibition 2004 - 2006

An art piece about Caring and Compassion
KNIT IT is based on interactive participation of men and women of all ages
knitting on white knitwear.

* TIME: 1-2PM

Participation makes you directly a living part of the artwork!

Sites for the coming exhibition September 21st 2005:

* Barcelona,
* Berlin,
* Chicago,
* Gjøvik,
* Gothenburg,
* Hamar,
* Istanbul,
* New York,
* Oslo,
* Ottawa,
* Paris,
* Rome,
* Stavanger,
* Venice,
* Västerås,
* Århus.
* More are coming.

Previous KNIT IT exhibitions:

* Berlin,
* Chicago,
* Gjøvik,
* Hamar,
* Lillehammer,
* Lillestrøm,
* New York,
* Oslo ,
* Stavanger,
* Teheran,
* Uddevalla,
* Uppsala,
* Venice,
* Västerås,
* and Ålesund.


Take Back the Night and Jennifer Teague

Miss Vicky Thu Sep 15, 2005

It's been a week since Jennifer Teague's disappearance. It's been heartbreaking to monitor the news coverage each day: no new leads, emotional pleas from her parents, fearful Barrhaven women and girls wondering whether it could happen to them.... And in one of those strange "six degrees" occurrences, we discovered that the missing woman is a friend of one of the Webgeek's sisters (we saw her on Sunday night following an evening of posting flyers).

For me, stories like this and the Ardeth Wood case of two years ago always yield mixed feelings. One cannot help but feel profoud sadness and sympathy for the people left behind, especially when there is uncertainly or lack of resolution in a case, but it's a distant kind of sympathy. I can only imagine what it would feel like, and I'm guessing the reality would be about a hundred times worse than anything I could conjure up in my head. But mixed up in the sadness is anger. A lot of it.

I'm angry that women still feel like potential prey when they walk on a street at night. I'm even more angry that there are men out there who view women as such. I'm angry that we are always one small step away from becoming a victim, and that our recognition of this reality has made it a self-fulfilling prophecy by forcing us to alter our behaviour or question ourselves, our dress, our habits and patterns. When we let fear control what we do, we have become victims already. I'm angry that we have to feel that women are somehow to blame for violence when the problem is rooted in how women are viewed by men and by society as a whole. I'm angry that fashion, popular culture, political systems and so much more keep throwing these attitudes back in our faces just when we think we're making some progress. I'm angry that women are supposed to be the ones to fix these problems, because so many men just don't get it, or don't want to get it, or think they get it and make things worse by trying to show they get it but not quite making it. I'm angry that calling oneself a feminist has somehow become a whispered secret shame. I'm angry that so many people feel it's inappropriate to be angry about these things.

Yep, I'm a little angry. Yep, it's unladylike. Yep, I'm a feminist and I'm not afraid to say that above a whisper.

I learned a long time ago that the best thing to do with one's anger is to channel it into something productive, like political action. So it's predictable that I would find something to work on, in addition to spreading the word about Jennifer should anyone have information that might help the search.

Take Back the Night marches have been held every year since I was in university. I've had a stormy relationship with them for a while - some have been very empowering. Others have been annoying (how can you take back the night when you're dividing the march by stopping for lights and making sure you walk politely on the sidewalk?!). Sometimes they become more about whether or not men are allowed to march, diverting attention away from the issue and the goal of the march and somehow making it all about how feminists are evil and men are so downtrodden. I'm hoping that this year folks will see the event for what it is meant to represent: the right of women to feel safe enough to walk unaccompanied at night.

I had a hard time finding info about this year's march on the 'net, so I called the Rape Crisis Centre. Here's the scoop:

Take Back the Night
Thursday, September 22
6:15 Rally at the Women's Monument, Minto Park
7:00 March for Women and Kids
after the March: events and refreshments at City Hall

Now before we get into a big kerfuffle about the march, let me say that I hope you menfolk understand and respect how important it is for men to step aside and support the march from the sidelines. I love having the Webgeek's company when I'm out at night, but I shouldn't have to need his accompaniment to feel safe in my own neighbourhood (or any other, for that matter). The march is about taking the streets back for ourselves, and the impact of this statement is reinforced when women march together as a community. It's pretty simple, really. We'll see you afterwards for coffee and cookies and the inevitable speeches and singing of folks songs.

It doesn't look like much promotion has happened, so spread the word!

Transit Fare hike? Act now!

Miss Vicky Tue Sep 13, 2005

City Council meets tomorrow. On the agenda is a proposal to hike transit fares in January. Transit increases, when approved as part of the city's budget, normally take place in July. This proposal is an end-run around process, since it fast-tracks one particularly contentious aspect of city budgeting, thereby avoiding the rather unsavory prospect of public consultation.

Ottawa's transit riders are already being gouged - way more than riders in other cities. Right now we're paying $2.75 to ride. Granted, you can save some money by buying tickets or passes, but that's not really the point. Most cities have ticket or pass systems that allow frequent riders to save money. Check out these comparisons of cash fares:

Toronto fares: $2.50
Vancouver: $2.25 (although you pay more if you live in one of the surrounding suburbs)
Calgary: $2.00
Montreal: $2.50
Halifax: $2.00

Regina, Winnipeg, Moncton, St. John's and Fredericton all charge less than two bucks.

The city's proposal uses rising fuel prices to justify the fare increase. Yep, gas prices are nuts and it takes a big bite out of the city's budget. They're projecting a deficit for this year and next year's budget is already gearing up to become a battle. Plus our transit system needs major cash for infrastructure if we're going to build it into the kind of system that will get people out of their cars.

But you don't get people out of their cars and on to buses or trains by making it more expensive to ride. And people who can't afford other modes of transportation have no choice, so this hike is basically nothing but a cash grab directly out of the pockets of the city's most disadvantaged and its working families.

Folks are just shaking the summer vacation fog out of their heads, so it's likely many are not paying attention to the city council agenda right now. Nor is there a lot of time to respond. So call your councillor now and let them know you feel about higher OC Transpo fares. Or show up at the meeting - it starts at 1pm tomorrow in council chambers at City Hall.

Here's our councillor's info, for us Kitchissippi folks:
Councillor Shawn Little
Ward 15 - Kitchissippi

Hintonburg: the new "it" neighbourhood?

Miss Vicky Mon Sep 12, 2005

Serves me right for skipping my usual weekend media review rituals.... I spent Saturday in work-related meetings and missed Alex Munter's profile of Hintonburg. He exposes what most of us already knew about our 'hood: the reality does not reflect the usual portrayal of the 'hood in the media as a haven for drug use and prostitution, a community living in fear, struggling with the challenges of poverty and crime.

"For a supposedly hardscrabble neighbourhood," writes Munter, "there's a lot of buzz about Hintonburg". He goes on to cite polling recently conducted for the Citizen which "confirms that the community's demographics don't match popular perceptions". About 40 % of us are what Environics calls "daytrippers and night owls" - young hipsters enjoying life while starting out in their careers, I'm assuming - and another third of households are middle and upper-middle class folks who represent "the leading edge of gentrification". The outcome, according to the pollster, is "an area that is solidly young and liberal in its outlook".

Munter interviews irrepressible community activist Linda Hoad, who expresses some discomfort at the suggestion that Hintonburg might become trendy - a destination site like Westboro or the Glebe rather than the quirky 'hood many of us have grown to love. She calles Hintonburg a "village" and I kind of agree with her.

I suppose there's a fine line between community renewal and gentrification. One of the things that brought me to Hintonburg at first was its affordability. As a single woman with a long history of contingent employment but a desire to put down some roots, I was ecstatic to find a well-priced home in an interesting neighbourhood with practically everything I needed within walking distance. I liked the diverse mix of people and businesses, and the sense that the community was really striving to develop in positive ways. In the last five years I've been pleased to see young folks and families moving in, fixing up homes, greeting each other on the street, in the shops or the market. I like the effort to brand Hintonburg as a destination for the arts - a new Gallery just opened up on Wellington west of Holland, for example, the now-annual ArtsPark is a real success, and the GCTC's move is a huge boon. I like our community events - the street dances, harvest festivals and other events that bring people together. I like the fact that they're decidedly uncommercial and open to everyone. I mean, who can beat a two buck hot dog and a crowd of kids grooving to samba music on a summer evening?

The challenge is ensuring that the improvements to the neighbourhood benefit everyone, not just those of us who like the thought of our house values rising and can afford to shop at places other than the Giant Tiger. It's not community development if folks are left behind, or gradually pushed away. At least, not the kind of development I'd like to see.

Over the last few months I've become involved with a group called Creative Neighbourhoods. It's a non-profit organization dedicated to helping inner-city, suburban and rural communities determine what kind of community they want to build and how they can work together to turn ideas into action. It's an energetic group made up planners, artists, and just plain community-minded folks. Over the summer they've been working with community organizations and business associations in the surrounding area to kick-start some creative thinking about improving and promoting our Wellington mainstreet. I'll write more about this as the project evolves, but the high level of interest in working together gives me a lot of hope for building not just a pleasant streetscape or a shopping/dining/cultural destination, but a friendly, healthy, diverse, compassionate and active neighbourhood.

As long as we get an ice cream parlour and a vet, I'm happy.

Pumpkin Snatchers

Miss Vicky Sun Sep 11, 2005

Some {insert expletive here} has snatched one of our two pumpkins from the front yard.

It was only a wee one.... was growing steadily and still very green.... snuffed out before Hallowe'en was even a glimmer in its triangle eye.... well, before it even had a triangle eye....

Needless to say, Miss Vicky is more than annoyed.

Don't forget: West End Studio Tour!

Miss Vicky Fri Sep 9, 2005

I know I've already written about this, but I really do recommend checking out the West End Studio Tour, which runs this weekend and next. There's some really nifty work going on on our community, and the tour gives you a taste of some of the incredible talent living here - and it satisfies the inner snoop in all of us, 'cause we can check out their homes and studios as well!

Last year one of my favourite stops was the home of Derek Aylen,a lawyer-turned-artist who does quite powerful woodcuts of Ottawa-Outaouais historical scenes. Some of you lawyer types might find his legal stuff kind of interesting - there's a piece featured in this article on the Department of Justice website.... of all places. I also enjoy Don Monet's work (and the fact that he makes his political cartoons available to folks on the internet). And there's something intriguing about Lynn Owen .

You can pick up a map at most eateries and shops in the 'hood.


Fire Updates

Miss Vicky Fri Sep 9, 2005

So Siam Bistro, a great Thai place on Wellington just west of Holland, went up in flames last week. I was doing the shuffle, looking for the perfect accessories for a fab retro-ish dress I found (just in time for a friend's wedding) and was astounded to find the road blocked and a what must have been every emergency vehicle in the vicinity crowding the street for 2 blocks. Firefighters were on the roof of the restaurant, and there were plenty of folks gathered around to watch.

It was hard to tell the extent of the damage - apparently it started in the kitchen, and from the number of personnel there it looked like it might be pretty bad. But a posted notice outside offers some promising news - they're renovating and plan to re-open. As soon as I have news, I'll let everyone know.

In other fire-related news, my faithful legion might recall an entry a while ago about the tragic fire at the Salus building on Gladstone. Salus is a supportive housing community for survivors of long-term mental illness. Apparently there's a donation drive on for the residents of the Gladstone building - the majority of them were left with little more than the clothing on their backs, and lots of them had been homeless before moving into the Salus facility.

According to the email, "As residents await a complete reconstruction of the building and service providers arrange alternate housing in the interim, concerned members of the community have banded together to create a “freestore”, a free, open warehouse of quality items and furniture for tenants to choose from.

Thanks to the generosity of the Ottawa Community Housing Corporation, this event will be taking place on Thursday, September 29th at 1400 Lepage Ave. from 9-12pm (exclusive to the Gladstone survivors), and from 1-4pm for the greater community to drop-in. Larger items such as sofas and tables are also welcome, and thanks to Causeway Work Centre, pick-ups can be arranged for shipment on the date of Friday, September 30th. Regular donations can be dropped off the preceding Wednesday.

Great idea. If you have quality items that you would like to donate e-mail Lepage @ salus.on.ca.


Webgeek's Big Day Out.

The Webgeek Thu Sep 8, 2005

Well, we're back from our trip to the Rock, and I must say St. John's was an impressive town. Lots to see; lots to do. Walking trails everywhere you looked -- which is good, because driving in that town is a veritable death sentence to the uninitiated (Hey. Six streets converging into one intersection; wouldn't a traffic circle make sense here? Nah. Lets all just make 'em shoot through the middle and hope it all comes out fine) Since Miss Vicky was there on business, I was left to my own devices for two days. Day one was mostly tied up with wandering up and down the side streets of St. John's; looking into various curio and sundry shops and buying souvenirs for friends back home. I had also promised not to get too drunk while Miss Vicky worked, so my usual solo touring style of pub hopping was out -- but I was still intent on partaking in the local liquid fare. On day two, being souvenired out, I decided to start the day (at noon) by wandering off to the Quidi Vidi Brewing Company for a tour.

Here's what I learned on that tour:

Well, actually; here's what I learned sitting on a pic-nic table outside the brewery while sharing a taster 6-pack with Quidi Vidi Brewery's marketing guy:

Quidi Vidi village (pronounced as either "Kitty Vitty", "Kiddie Viddie" or "Kweye-die Veye-die", depending on who you talk to) is the oldest fishing settlement in Newfoundland. Being a small, strategically placed harbour just north-east of the larger St. John's harbour, it was a hotly contested piece of property that exchanged hands between the French and English several times in its history. Once cod stocks began depleting in the Atlantic, the fish processing plant closed down and was bought in the early nineties. The new owners turned it into a micro-brewery. Their initial beer, 1892, was named after the year of the second great fire of St. John's (12,000 people left homeless and $30 million in damages -- $30 mil in 1892 dollars). It's a nice dark, hopsy brew. It's one of their biggest sellers, but does appeal to a more refined palate (i.e. its popular with the tourists). Their second and most popular offering is QV Light (originally Northern Light, recently renamed because a copyright issue). It was brewed to compete with Blue Light, Canadian Light, Coors light, and the like. Interesting Beer Fact #1: While Newfoundland has the 2nd highest per-capita beer consumption in Canada (behind Quebec), something like 80% of the market is comprised of light beers. It's baffling, but true. Newfoundlanders like watery beer. Interesting Beer Fact #2: Light beer really is watery. To be correct, light beer is "de-brewed" (industry talk for watered down) to 4% alcohol from a stronger beer. In QV light's case, it's de-brewed from 5% beer. In macro-breweries cases, it's de-brewed from a stronger concentrate, made at 6%-8% alcohol (their "regular" beers, BTW are also de-brewed from that same concentrate). Now, since they were already producing a 5% brew to "de-brew", they decided pretty quickly to bottle that too, so QV (originally Northern - renamed for the same reason) became their 3rd beer. Their fourth beer, originally a specialty brew produced for the 1000th anniversary of Lief Ericson's landing on the rock, is Eric's Red Cream ale. A nice, smooth cream ale reminiscent of Creemore Springs -- who provide Quidi Vidi with their yeast strains. Topping off their line, they also recently decided to get on the Honey-brown bandwagon and now produce Quidi Vidi Honey Brown and (given the market) Quidi Vidi Honey Brown Light.

So, with about 3 beers worth of "tasters" in my belly (don't worry; the brewery is walking distance from downtown St. John's), I decided it was time for lunch. A stone's throw away was two pubs. One was a large two story pub & inn type deal that was all done up for the tourist trade -- complete with tour bus parked in front -- and the other was not. I went for the one that was not -- "The Old Time Pub". Walking in, I couldn't help but notice that the place was built almost entirely out of plywood and hockey sticks. There was a huge shrine to the Maple Leafs (the St. John's Maple leafs, mind you) and stuffed into various nooks and crannies were hats and antlers and the odd plastic lobster -- all put there for structural stability I'm assuming -- and what wall space wasn't taken up by hockey memorabilia or pre-fab crustasions was covered in tiny souvenir spoons. I'm talking thousands. Now, The owner -- who might well have been Mary Walsh's Gran -- was talking up a new delivery guy ("Wot's a lumberin' hunk o' Luv like you doin' hallin' baxes?") so I sat and soaked in the ambiance. Once the business transaction was complete, she turned her attention to me.

Naturally, I ordered an 1892.
"Ah!" she replied, "we don' carry dat 'ere!".
"You don't?" I said, looking out the door to the brewery across the street.
"Lard no. I tried doin' business wit' dem a few times. They's all thick over der'. Anyways. Tha' beer's jus' fer alca-halics or those that's jus' started drinkin'. You din't jus' start drinkin' did'ja? Here. I'll get ya a real beer." and she returned with a Blue Star.
"Can I have a menu?" I asked.
"We've got beef stew." was the answer.
"Sounds Perfect." I grinned.

And it was. Oh dear me, was it perfect. Simple. Hardy. Fantastic. A clear broth with beef, potatoes, carrots, onions and cabbage. Spiced with what I'm assuming was salt, pepper & maybe some oregano, rosemary and/or thyme. All of it must have been simmering since last week. It came with a buttered hamburger bun for dipping. It was what comfort food wants to come back as in the next life. I was in heaven. As I ate, she sat at a piano and chatted with me and the one regular sitting there. She opened up her music book, which was sheets of fullscap with the notes written as letters (CGEEFAC...) in rows. She proceeded to plunk out a few tunes, while explaining that an Australian girl had made the sheet music for her while being screeched in. The Aussie had started playing the piano, and the bar owner confessed to never learning how to play. So a magic marker an some paper was found and all her favourite songs were transcribed over shots of screech. Some masking tape was placed on the keys so she'd know what notes were what. Unfortunately, the poor Aussie girl had had five or six shots of screech by the end of this, so some of the songs weren't exactly right. As she played, another regular came in and complimented her on her improved playing. The two started talking about the owner's daughter ("She said she'd never date an Army guy; She'd never date a trucker; and she'd never date a guy with a mustache. Well doesn't she just t'row dat all away and fall for this big lug now.") as I paid my bill -- $10 for two beers and the best beef stew in the world! -- and I went on my way.

The beef stew and the 45 minute hike back to the B&B sobered me up, so I decided to drive off to my next adventure. The Fluvarium. I had no idea what a Fluvarium was, but how can you *NOT* go to something called a Fluvarium? Seriously? I assumed it was most likely built in the 70's and would be pretty cheesy in a "grade five field trip" kind of way. Besides, "feeding time" was 4pm. Well, turns out that the Fluvarium is an octagonal (70's. Check) building sunk into the ground next to a river and adjacent pond. It has glass walls on the one side so you can see the fish swim by ("grade five field-trippy" Check). It also had some circa-94 interactive computer exhibits thrown in for good measure (Cheesy. Check). "Feeding time" was a guy named Bob going outside and tossing worms in the river so we could watch trout go nuts for a few seconds. Bob said they were Brown trout that were introduced to Newfoundland from Scotland. Bob then took us to indoor tanks with all the different indigenous and introduced species of fish in Newfoundland and fed them too. Bob explained how the tanks were all filled with piped in river water that flowed from one tank into the other. Bob's favourite fish was the Brook trout, which was a native species to Newfoundland, and much prettier than the Brown trout. There were frogs there too, but Bob said they only got fed on alternating days from the fish, so come back tomorrow to see the frogs eat. Bob was a pretty low key kind of guy. Miss Vicky called just as I went outside to check out the fish ladder, so I went to pick her up. Maybe next time I'll find out how a fish ladder works.

And that was the end of my second day alone. Well, not really. Miss Vicky and I got invited for beers at "the Ship" by some professors too, but most of that is kind of foggy, so we'll just leave it be.

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