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All In Hand

Here you'll find the sum total of Miss Vicky's Remarks thus far.

Yes, baby! Yes!

Miss Vicky Thu Dec 28, 2006

When I moved to the 'hood, Anything Goes was the anchor shop for the area, serving up antiques and funky second hand furniture and assorted kitsch on the corner of Wellington and Stirling. But they got priced out of the market, took their business online and eventually found another shop location tucked in the far southeast corner of Hintonburg, in a hidden industrial enclave on Laurel. For a while the space was vacant, then a liquidation furniture store moved in. They disappeared after a (rumoured) spat with the landlord, and the spot has been vacant since.

Until now, that is. Recently the for lease sign disappeared, the windows were papered over, and a small sign appeared in the window indicating a salsa dance studio was moving in. Now more signs are up and posters have started to appear around the neighbourhood. Sueno Salsero is opening January first. They're offering group, private and semi-private classes (the posters are advertising classes in "reggaeton", which apparently is a contemporary Latin American music hybrid mixing reggae, dance hall, and other latin beats with a hip hop flavour. Who knew? (well, apparently people way more hip than Miss Vicky knew, 'cause she found it on Wikipedia)

Miss Vicky is contemplating organizing a group for a beginners' class some evening. I must admit to some mixed feelings about latin dancing. I would LIKE to be able to do it.... I love latin music. But my experiences thus far have been less than encouraging. A few of my readers who know me from way back may recall a certain evening in Hamilton when a bunch of grad students attended a fundraiser for the El Salvadoran community. They had a great band and the energy was fantastic. Thanks to the enthusiasm of a certain friend known to the faithful legion here as pinklitva, Miss Vicky found herself in the arms of a fellow named Jésus for an impromptu merengue lesson. His teaching style was unique, to be sure. He held me close, his hands on my hips, trying to show me the rhythm of the dance. It wasn't working well. I had a hard time keeping myself from laughing. When I tried to politely extract myself from the situation, which was just a bit too.... intimate... for my liking (I'm such a WASP, really), my partner insisted "no no, we merengue!". Fine. I gave it one last shot and when I finally got the right rhythm in my hips, Jésus would exclaim, "Yes, baby! Yes!". I didn't last long; the laughter took over and my partner good-naturedly released me after I thanked him very much for his efforts.

Now I have someone as Scottish and stiff-hipped as me to dance with. Should be interesting.

A Westboro eulogy

Miss Vicky Fri Dec 22, 2006

Andy, who owned Roosevelt Confectionary on the corner of Princeton and Roosevelt, passed away yesterday. Miss Fish has posted a beautiful eulogy for her neighbour and a real fixture in her community.

Xmas Last Minute Guide

Miss Vicky Fri Dec 22, 2006

It's been hard to feel ready for holiday festivities. Between the balmy weather, the new domestic schedule, and the frenetic pace of the campaign, I just haven't been as together as I normally am this time of year. So much of my shopping has been last minute, and pretty much all of it has been local. And I have been fairly successful so far! Without giving too much away regarding my own purchases, here is Miss Vicky's guide to last-minute holiday preparations.

There are a lot of great places in Kitchissippi to find gifts for all sorts of folks. My gifting challenges range from a stepfather who truly has everything to a certain relative whose tastes are quite particular to a growing number of neices and nephews, all under 7. Here are a few of my favourite gift sources:

Heavens to Betsy always has interesting gifts for adults, kids and babies. Check out the great knitted mitts, hats and scarves, fantastic handbags, old and new knicknacks and home decorating items, funky jewellry, indulgent bath items and other odds and sods. Also they have wonderful holiday ornaments. Plus Dawn and Denise are great folks.

Ravensara (as I've already mentioned) is a great source for gifts - essential oils, candles, fantastic hand-knit puppets, lamps and lots more. And if you haven't had time to decorate the outside of your house, you can pick up the deliciously cheesy wooden reindeer for your lawn!

I've always had good luck atthe World of Maps - altases, globes, maps (including cycling, paddling and trail maps, which are always good for the outdoorsy types) and more.

Collected Works is a fine independent bookstore, with a great kids' collection, lots of Canadiana, plenty of inexpensive gifts thanks to calendars and publishers' overstock. If you're looking for Magnetic Poetry, this is the spot! Booklovers can also check out the Weekend Reader just up the road (they recently added an art gallery to their space as well).

Speaking of art, the Cube has added extra hours tonight for their Great Big Smalls show. They close at 10pm this evening, and then at 5 tomorrow for a bit of a holiday break.

Kids Stuff: The Extraordinary Baby Shoppe for cloth diapers, slings and carriers, and a few other nifty items. They have adorable kid-sized slings that hold dolls, so preschoolers with new siblings can be just like Mom and Dad. Red Chair Kids for great onesies, stuff for kids' rooms and other nifty items. Further along the road in Westboro, there's Boomerang Kids, Mrs Tiggywinkles and West End Kids.

Social Justice: Ten Thousand Villages and Bridgehead both offer fairly-traded gifts. And you can sample an egg nog latte at the same time!

Deck the Halls: For last-minute decorators, pick your tree up at the Parkdale Market (or the ROH, where tree profits support mental health programs). Lights and trimmings can be found at Morris' Home Hardware on Holland and Wellington, or up the road at Canadian Tire. There are funky and fab ornaments at Heavens to Betsy, Ravensara, Ten Thousand Villages and many other spots. Heck, you never know waht you'll find at the GT Boutique! Oh, and there's one lonely pencil-headed wooden reindeer at Ravensara, if your front yard needs a festive presence.

Tuck in: I ordered my turkey from Saslove's.... I may just pick up some cranberry and herb bison sausages for Xmas breakfast as well. We'll be getting our veggies from Herb and Spice. Cookies and baking can be found at Three Bakers and a Bike and Harvest Loaf and Trillium Bakery is advertising a suet-free Christmas Pudding (not sure about that... ours will be the traditional Crosse and Blackwell brand, since our usual local source didn't pan out this year). Chocolate lovers will find plenty at the Bagel Shop (a good source for stocking stuffers as well. And bagels, of course), or up the road at Truffle Treasures in Westboro.

I'm sure I'm missing lots... but wee Gordon is currently wriggling his way out of a swaddle, so it's time to post this! Feel free to add your favourite Kitchissippi festive hotspots!


A Blogging Break!

Miss Vicky Wed Dec 20, 2006

Well, Gordon is swaddled and conked out in his little rocking chair, looking something like this:

I'm taking advantage of the break to get a couple of things done.... finishing up a batch of cookies, making myself some dinner. And blogging - a rare occurrence these days! We've been keeping up a busy pace, wee Gordon and I. The Christmas shopping is pretty much done, and preparations for the dinner we're cooking for the Webgeek's family are going well. Speaking of the Webgeek, he's had some monster deadlines at work, so Gordon and I have been spending plenty of quality time together. It's been great, but I definitely appreciate little breaks like this. 'Cause any minute the view of my snoozing little one is going to shift to this:

Now, I'm sure you're all expecting a rant about the loss of the LRT or the beginning of what will be a ridiculous budget process. But time (and focus) is limited right now... plus the holiday season is here and like many folks Miss Vicky is preoccupied with preparations, gatherings of family and friends and other festive endeavours.

Normally I like to have everything wrapped up by now - shopping done, tree up and the Finishing School's annual holiday bash all over but the recycling of the many bottles that went into the mulling pot. This year, with the election and our new arrival, I'm a little behind. The holiday bash was set aside, and the tree just went up on Sunday. Gordon and I have been doing the shopping in segments as we do the Wellington Shuffle once or twice a day. Watch this space for the next entry - Miss Vicky's Last-minute Holiday Tips

Meet some of Hintonburg's Craftiest Women....

Miss Vicky Thu Dec 14, 2006

Three of the 'hood's most fabulous artisans are hosting an open house this Saturday. Got a few folks left on your holiday list? Whether last minute shopping or just browsing, you'll be able to check out fabulous local hand-made pottery and textiles.

A Crafty Christmas Open House
Three Artists...
abi lyon wicke (maker of things)
Andrea Stokes (Pink Wagon)
Corky Peppley (Sparrow Textiles)
Saturday December 16
12 pm - 5 pm
43 Spadina Avenue
for more info email abilyonwicke at hotmail dot com

10% of all sales will be donated to the Stephen Lewis Foundation. We’re collecting for the Food Bank, too.

You'll be able to find some amazing stuff here. I already purchased a few items from Ms. Stokes at the Craft show, but I know I still have plenty of shopping to do!

Not ready for prime time

Miss Vicky Wed Dec 13, 2006

Hard to find time to blog these days. Gordon and I have been getting used to the new, campaign-free routine. So far it consists of feeding, getting up, walking with the Webgeek and Winston to Bridghead for coffee, feeding, another stroll up Wellington and back, feeding, and so on. With assorted changes, loads of laundry and other sundry items thrown in for good measure. Oh, and his first real, mucusy cold. More on this and on our cloth diapering experiments in another post, perhaps.... for now, I think it's time to weigh in on Mayor Larry's first week in office.

I knew this council was going to be wacky. I just didn't think it would start so soon, with the back and forth about the salary increases. Who knew a millionaire entrepreneur would feel the position needed such a pay hike? Then there was the not-so-wacky hiring of Walter Robinson as chief of staff. Smart move, really, but the hiring of several diehard conservative boys for the inner sanctum does give you an indication of where we're headed as a city, and I can't say I'm terribly happy about it.

Despite the hiring of clever conservatives who should be able to compensate for Mayor Larry's shortcomings in political and municipal experience, his Worship still managed to let his inexperience reign for his first big challenge.... the LRT. What a mess! I suppose I can understand the desire of some councillors to try and salvage the project and find compromise, but did they seriously think they could do it on the fly? And by cutting out the downtown portion - the necessary component for ensuring that the LRT would actually be used by folks, and not just folks from Barrhaven or Riverside South? And the whole tunnel business... my understanding is that it would be extraordinarily difficult (and expensive) to tunnel, that it had come up in earlier discussions (remember, the LRT planning has been going on for several years). So I figured that we'd waste a few more years, and a whole lot of tax revenue, studying it only to find that we wouldn't be able to do it after all, and we'd wind up with the original plan in the end.

And did they seriously think they could get away with altering the plan at this point, without repercussions? So of course as soon as this compromise plan is passed, we hear from the two unsuccessful bidders that they consider the new plan to be a substantial change and there should be a new process... (hmmmm, you'd think an experienced and successful businessman would understand procurement processes... but I digress). Then, of course, the other levels of government begin to weigh in with misgivings about the change in plans, and now it looks like Mayor Larry's changed his tune AGAIN, and will be encouraging councillors not to go ahead with the new plan.

Does anyone else hear the circus music soundtrack playing? Funny, I could have sworn....

You thought we were backed into a corner before the election? Now we're really screwed. At tomorrow's council meeting they'll either vote to go with the original plan, vote to scrap the project altogether (thus exposing us to a potentially massive lawsuit from the company we've signed the contract with), or contine to try and put a plan together piecemeal. Which means we might have light rail by the time Gordon graduates from high school. If we're lucky.

In the meantime, it's going to be so much more convenient to build more roads. And they're going to have to come up with some solution for the south end, and I bet you there'll be plenty of ashphalt involved.

New Environmental Watchdog

Miss Vicky Wed Dec 6, 2006

Seems the results of the recent municipal election have inspired some developments in the community. A new watchdog organization has sprung up, to keep an eye on the city's environmental policies and practices. It's very much needed - we have groups who have dedicated themselves to specific issues, like the Coalition for a Healthy Ottawa (pesticides), the Greenspace Alliance, and Ottawa Landfill Watch, but no one group that has a comprehensive mandate.

Ottawa has a lot of grand plans about being a green city, but we lag far behind other communities, big and small, when it comes to adopting policies that encourage sustainability. We're big on the rhetoric and short in the action. Now we have a mayor that few would consider "green", and I for one am a tad concerned that our environment might be sacrificed at the altar of the bottom line. So I'll be getting involved with Ecology Ottawa and helping out where I can.

The group wants to make it easy for environmentally-minded citizens to make their voice heard to our municipal decision-makers. So it's going to be very action-oriented. And the first action is a letter to the mayor. Here's the notice that's circulating:

With Mayor Larry O'Brien and a new City Council starting on December 5, the time is right for those of us who care about Ottawa's environment to come together and hold City Hall accountable for its record on the environment. Please take a minute out of your busy schedule to read this message and TAKE ACTION.

Here are three initial actions you can do (all together, they will take 3 minutes):

First, go to www.ecologyottawa.ca and
send a polite message to Mayor O'Brien telling him that you want City Hall to live up to its 2004 commitment to make Ottawa " the *cleanest and smartest city in Canada* in tending to our air and in managing our energy use habits." We've prepared a draft letter and our website will make it easy for you to let O'Brien know that you care about Ottawa's

Second, when you are on our website sending the message to Mayor O'Brien you can sign up for Ecology Ottawa Updates by selecting the box at the bottom of the message. Every so often (and no more than twice a month) we will send you a short email outlining some of the environmental issues that are on the agenda at City Hall. We will also provide simple suggestions of things that you can do to make your voice heard. This will help you stay informed about local issues such as public transit, pollution, greenspace, renewable energy, waste disposal, recycling and pesticides. It will also make it easy for you to reach out to encourage your Councillor and Mayor to cast a vote for the environment.

Third, forward this email as widely as possible to other people in Ottawa. Help us get the word out!

A small commitment of your time can make a big difference to Ottawa's environment!

ABOUT ECOLOGY OTTAWA: Cities are home to 80% of Canada's population and there is no way to tackle the scale of the environmental crisis that we are facing without leadership from every level of government. Ottawa is where we live, work, learn and grow, and Ecology Ottawa is about residents coming together to nurture sustainable communities and build a grassroots network that can be a voice for the environment at City Hall.

Together we can help make sure that our nation's capital is at the forefront of efforts to build healthy communities and develop sustainable solutions. Together we can make Ottawa the green capital of Canada.