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All In Hand

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

Summer's here and the weekends are busy

Miss Vicky Thu May 31, 2007

Oh, so many things going on this weekend! It's going to be difficult to decide what to do. I'll tell you what I WON'T be doing..... weeding my garden. I know, I know, the weeds are appalling. But I'm going to coast on the explosion of irises for now, and put off the weeding . There are too many fun things happening anyway.

Devonshire School's annual Book Bash starts late Friday afternoon. It's more than a used book sale -there will be a silent auction, BBQ and entertainment. It should be a fun community event - and you can get cheap books to boot!

Devonshire Book Bash
Friday, June 1st from 4 until 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, June 2nd from 9 a.m. until noon, in the school gym at 100 Breezehill Avenue North (located between Somerset and Gladstone Streets, just west of Preston).

Saturday I'm going to be torn between A Taste of Wellington and Art in the Park, which takes place in the Glebe. A Taste of Wellington is sponsored by the Wellington Village Business Association, and will highlight some of the yummy fare on what some are starting to call "Epicurean Row". It takes place between 10am and 4pm and will include an asparagus cook-off between some of our resident chefs. Sounds like a great excuse for the Wellington Shuffle (not that I need one).

Art in the Park takes place in the Glebe's Central Park (off Bank, by Clemow). Some of Miss Vicky's favourite folks will be there. Her pal Jenn Farr will be demonstrating her beeswax painting techniques, and another friend Eliza will be selling her wonderful jewellry. Andrea Stokes' wonderful textiles, abi lyon wicke's pottery, and the funky stuffed creatures by fabricawakuwaku will be there.... and plenty, plenty more. Art in the Park takes place on Saturday and Sunday, from 10-5.

A walk around the 'hood also reveals a host of garage sales . It will be a great weekend to get out and enjoy the city!

Smart Electricity

Miss Vicky Wed May 30, 2007

We had a knock on the door this morning - Hydro Ottawa workers ready to install our new Smart Meter. It took about a minute to get set up. The cynical side of me might see this as a cash grab on the part of Hydro Ottawa, since a new price schedule will be implemented soon, and is subject to change every 6 monyhd. But I'm actually kind of happy about it. We should be able to get a better sense of our electricity usage, and maybe identify a few ways to conserve. Perhaps it will knock me out of the habit of using the dryer and get me hanging our laundry out to dry, for example.

Gordie exists! Well, sorta.

Miss Vicky Tue May 29, 2007

It's bad enough it takes months to get a birth certificate in Ontario.... especially when the city sends back the Live Birth Registration form because you failed to include a maiden name (maybe because you DON'T HAVE a maiden name!) three months after you submitted it and you have to send it in all over again and wait a couple more months to get the new form processed and sent to the province.... But then you finally get the birth certificate and it has the WRONG BIRTHDATE on it.... ARGH!

I am the first person to defend civil servants but this particular bureaucracy really bites.

On Swaggering

Miss Vicky Thu May 24, 2007

So today the Mayor opened the rally for the Sens with "Welcome to Swaggerville". I must admit that I get a little shudder at the thought of my hometown adopting a swaggering attitude. I can kind of understand what the Mayor is looking for - a confident attitude, a pride in the great things we have to offer, a bit of shameless self-promotion. But it's the word "swagger" that really gets me. Because swagger is not just self-confidence, at least not the way I understand it.

So I decided to check a few dictionaries. Maybe I am just misunderstanding Mayor Larry.... Could happen, right?

First stop, dictionary.com, which had a few entries:

Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1)

swag·ger /ˈswægər/ [swag-er]
–verb (used without object)
1. to walk or strut with a defiant or insolent air.
2. to boast or brag noisily.
–verb (used with object)
3. to bring, drive, force, etc., by blustering.
4. swaggering manner, conduct, or walk; ostentatious display of arrogance and conceit.
[Origin: 1580–90; swag1 + -er6]

—Related forms
swag·ger·er, noun

—Synonyms 1. See strut1.
Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1)
Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2006.

American Heritage Dictionary
swag·ger (swāg'ər) Pronunciation Key
v. swag·gered, swag·ger·ing, swag·gers
v. intr.
1. To walk or conduct oneself with an insolent or arrogant air; strut.
2. To brag; boast.

v. tr.
To browbeat or bully (someone).

1. A swaggering movement or gait.
2. Boastful or conceited expression; braggadocio.

[Probably frequentative of swag.]

swag'ger·er n., swag'ger·ing·ly adv.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
Copyright © 2006 by Houghton Mifflin Company.

WordNet adds these definitions:


1. to walk with a lofty proud gait, often in an attempt to impress others; "He struts around like a rooster in a hen house" [syn: tittup]
2. discourage or frighten with threats or a domineering manner; intimidate [syn: browbeat]
3. act in an arrogant, overly self-assured, or conceited manner

WordNet® 3.0, © 2006 by Princeton University.

My next stop: the Oxford English Dictionary's online search tool. Here's what I got.


• verb: walk or behave in a very confident or arrogant manner.
• noun: a swaggering gait or manner.
• adjective: (of a coat or jacket) cut with a loose flare from the shoulders.

Merriam-Webster yielded a similar result.

intransitive verb
1 : to conduct oneself in an arrogant or superciliously pompous manner; especially : to walk with an air of overbearing self-confidence

transitive verb : to force by argument or threat : BULLY

Is this really the attitude we want to show the world? I mean, I don't mind a little braggadocio around the Sens right now. Nothing wrong with a little celebratory strutting once in a while. And trash-talking is part of sportsthese days, especially professional sports. But as a general manner or approach to others? "arrogant or superciliously pompous"? Boastful or conceited? A bully?

Certainly I'd use the word to describe the Mayor and his behaviour. Take yesterday's threat to sue the Citizen for publishing the alleged emails between O'Brien and Terry Kilrea, which certainly seem to give some credence to Kilrea's accusations. Or his dismissive and flippant response to criticism of his flip-flop on his tax freeze promise. Is it swaggering to break campaign promises, once the "campaign is long over"?

To me, Larry O'Brien has demonstrated a profound lack of respect for the city's voters, for the democratic process , for transparency. We could use a little less swagger and a lot more sincerity.


Hush.... a confession

Miss Vicky Tue May 22, 2007

I admit it. When it comes to wee Gordon, I'm a clothes horse. Well, I'd like to be a clothes horse too but a) I can't afford it and b) most clothes don't fit or complement my rather curvy, short-waisted frame. So I guess I'm living some of my fashion fantasies out on my son.

Now, I can't really justify making a lot of purchases at the more pricey stores (although the scooter and bug rompers from Gymboree were hard to resist). We were able to coast on shower gifts for a good six months, and then the Glebe's annual My Kid's Funky Closet used clothing sale helped a lot.

Last week I stopped in to HUSH, the trendy consignment shop that's just moved into the new Esso Car Wash building on Wellington Street West and Island Park, on a desperate search for summer clothes for my new mom body (this follows a highly depressing survey of my stash of shorts, skirts and tops that no longer fit quite right, not to mention my realization that my collection of cute summer dresses won't work with the whole nursing thing). I managed to find a nice wrap-style t-shirt and a cute paisley skirt, but the big discovery was the news that Hush is opening a kid's consignment store right next door, called Hush Little Baby. They'll be selling gently-used (and trendy) baby and kid's clothes as well as accessories. They will start accepting consignment items later this week and plan to open in July. Funky, affordable clothes for Mom and babe in one handy location.... I'm looking forward to it!


Miss Vicky Thu May 17, 2007

OK, I feel pulled in about a million directions this week.... every day come across something I think I should blog about, and then... I don't. So here are a few random musings:

I had a great Mother's Day. Started with a breakfast of French Toast in bed, and coffee made with my funky new french press (the Webgeek's mother's day gift). Then we trotted off to ArtsPark, where I had committed to helping out Creative Neighbourhoods for the day. We put up one of the giant maps we've been taking to events, and put up some of the most common ideas on bristol board, inviting comments, expressions of support and other ideas from the ArtsPark crowd. I love doing this kind of stuff - I spent the better part of the day explaining the process and its connection with the city's Neighbourhood Planning Initiative, chatting with folks about what they love about the neighbourhood and how they would like it to evolve. The map is a great tool; it really gets people thinking. I really enjoyed the conversations and debates that it evoked. And I think we got some good feedback, to boot.

Of course, it wasn't all urban development geekiness. ArtsPark was great - a really diverse lineup of music and activities. Lots of people, thanks to the amazing weather. Lots of kids. Gordie enjoyed his first experience with sand and swings. And we ended the day with a beverage and snack at the Carleton Tavern.

Monday's city council golf course strategic planning discussions yielded an interesting comment from Mayor Larry. Apparently election promises mean nothing once the election is over.... he's now saying that zero may not mean zero after all, that tax increases may be inevitable in order to protect city services. Nice to see he's finally come around to reality.... but wouldn't it have been nice to have an honest discussion of city finances during the election? I suspect voters would have made a different choice had there been a real debate about priorities and an acknowledgement of Ottawa's financial position.

I was a bit peeved about this earlier this week... but my sister and her 3 boys came to town to distract me. And now I have a long weekend to look forward to!

Before I head off, though, I should remind you all about the Neighbourhood Planning surveys. Numbers 4 and 5 of the series are now on line here. These surveys focus on human services and facilites, and arts and heritage. And you can still fill out the first three surveys if you missed them.

By popular demand....

Miss Vicky Mon May 14, 2007

The second-place cake recipe:

Mix together:
1 1/2 cups flour
3 tablespoons cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

put dry ingredients into greased 8x8 or 9x9 cake pan

Make 3 grooves in mixture.
In the first groove, pour 5 tbsp cooking oil.
Tn the second, pour 1 tablespoon vinegar.
pour 1 teaspoon vanilla into the third.
Add one cup cold water and mix until smooth and all the flour is mixed in.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until done.

Miss Vicky takes the cake

Miss Vicky Sat May 12, 2007

Tulip Cake

Ok, not quite. But my Orange Tulip-decorated chocolate cake won second prize in today's Hintonburg Tulip Festival competition. Woohoo!

Weekend fun at Parkdale Park!

Miss Vicky Wed May 9, 2007

Lots of stuff going on this weekend! We'll be spending the better part of it at Parkdale Park, behind the market.

Saturday is the Market Opening and Tulip Festival. There'll be all kinds of activities for kids between noon and four. Gardeners can check out the plant exchange at 10am. And there's a competition for the best chocolate cake (you'll have to beat my recipe though.... entries are due at 12:30).

Sunday is ArtsPark, Hintonburg's annual celebration of its growing arts district. Highlights include:

Salamander theatre for young audiences presents A World of Stories, featuring an absolutely huge puppet. The show (suitable for ages 5 to 12) goes on at 11am -- bring chairs or blankets.

Starting at noon, Around the Rainbow will hold a bead-making activity for kids, featuring Hintonburg Artist Marika Jemma. There will be additional art and play activities for younger children as well.

The Cube Gallery will host one of their great Kids Art Talk at 2pm, featuring the current Ron Whate exhibit called "Vernissage".

The Parkdale Gallery is hosting an intriguingly-titled Urban Art Event... looking forward to checking that out!

There's a ton of music planned - Singer-songwriter Carleton Bovell kicks things off at noon, followed by the Ottawa Community Concert Band at 1, former Mayoral candidate Lucky Ron and the McGillicuddy Sisters at 2, and techno artist Simon Ears, AKA Tekno Turtle, at 3. Something for everyone, really!

And of course there will be the usual exhibit featuring local artists, artisan booths and more.... What better way to spend Mother's Day?

Transformation, Tune-up.... too much?

Miss Vicky Tue May 8, 2007

So for the last couple of Mondays, Mayor Larry and members of city council have been meeting out at the Pineview Golf course for a series of strategic planning sessions. At first they were very hush-hush about it, but public pressure (particularly mobilization by citizens' and advocacy groups, not to mention the media) forced the mayor to backtrack and open the meetings to the public. Of course, he's meeting with small groups of city councillors in his office instead, but apparently we're supposed to buy the oh-so-innocent "but of course we were intending to make the sessions public" line. Whatever.

Either way, what we're seeing is a worrisome tendency to take an end-run around the democratic process and abandon any notion of open, accountable city governance. I suppose I don't blame the councillors for trying to make the most out of the Mayor's process - they have to work with this guy for another three and a half years, after all. They have managed to take his rhetoric of "transformation" down a few notches. Apparently they're giving the city a "tune-up" now.


The thing is, the city went through an extensive visioning process not too long ago. Remember Ottawa 20/20? It was probably the most extensive public consultation the city has ever done, and the outcome was supposed to guide the city's planning for the next couple of decades. The process for these sessions doesn't really cut the mustard when compared with 20/20 - and not just the 20/20 plan, but the various supporting plans that were developed afterwards - like the Transportation Master Plan, for example. But of course, this council's already thrown that one out the window along with the LRT.

Now we know the Mayor's plan is to revamp the way the city provides services, outsource whatever he can, create public-private-partnerships to supposedly save money ('cause that really worked with the skating rinks), and overhaul the city's governance process. So what is going to be the outcome of these sessions? Are we talking 1,000 days of transformation, as the Mayor has declared, or are we merely tinkering with what we already do?

Mayor Larry certainly seems to be gearing up for some kind of push for change. His "Citizen Satisfaction Survey", a Decima Research poll of 1000 odd residents, showed a drop in satisfaction regarding the city's services. Of course, this is be pretty ambiguous.... people can be dissatisfied for all kinds of reasons. I'm not happy about the city's child care services, for example - does that mean I think we're spending too much money on it, or too little? That I think we need less child care or more? But it hardly matters to Mayor Larry, does it, because he'll use the results as evidence to support whatever he wants to do.

A network of individuals and organizations have come together under the banner of Imagine Ottawa to keep an eye on these meetings and remind the Mayor and Council about the priorities set out by Ottawa 20/20. They figure council just needs the right tools for this tune-up, so they can build a healthy and inclusive city.

The group meets every Wednesday evening on the fifth floor of 280 Metcalfe. If you'd like to get involved with the campaign, they are always looking for new folks with energy and ideas. There will be other ways to participate as the campaign evolves. I believe a sign-on letter to council is in the works. I'll keep you all posted.

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