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All In Hand

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

Cooperating in the 'hood

Miss Vicky Tue Jul 31, 2007

Can you believe it's August tomorrow? The summer is slipping away, and so is Miss Vicky's parental leave. I know everyone says this, but yikes! It's gone so quickly!

And of course, the end of parental leave means Miss Vicky and the Webgeek have to make arrangements for Wee G's care. Winston's not really qualified, what with the lacking opposable thumbs and all... and I am guessing that a 2 second year of EI is not going to be on anyone's election agenda (whenever that happens). And sadly, we can't afford to lose an income... so day care it is.

Wee G has been on the city's centralized child care waiting list for ages, and we have yet to hear a word. There is not a lot of home-based child care in the immediate area either. Thank goodness for the CBC.... several months ago, we woke up to an interview with folks involved in a parent-run child care co-operative in Vanier. So Miss Vicky got in touch and arranged a meetup at Bridgehead with any families that were interested in hearing how their set-up works (coincidentally, friends of one of the families were also interested in the concept...and happen to live in Hintonburg). After some spreading the word and a few more Bridgehead get-togethers, it looks like we're going ahead with setting up a day care co-op here in the 'hood.

Here's how it works: there is a maximum of 6 kids in the day care (although some of the "spots" can be shared by families who want part-time care). The co-op hires a caregiver, and each family works one "duty day" in the co-op per child. So there are always 2 adults on site. In addition to taking an active role in the care, parents take on responsibilities for meal planning and grocery shopping, finance, communications, facility maintenance, programming and so on. It's a lot of work, but the idea of being so engaged really appeals to us. So does the prospect of building a great community of families. And obviously it appeals to a lot of other folks, too, because we actually have too much interest right now.

In addition to finding the right mix of parents and kids, we also have the challenge of finding appropriate space and a good caregiver. The other co-op, and its model in Toronto, uses an in-law suite in the basement of one of the families. Unfortunately, none of us have an appropriate space in our home. So we're shopping for a ground floor or basement apartment that has access to a backyard. So far there are a couple of likely candidates, although we'll be paying substantially more than our friends to the east! As for the caregiver, we'll be putting out the call shortly (and welcome inquiries and recommendations from any readers). Then we'll be on the case for supplies, backyard equipment and multiple strollers.

The only real pickle is that there are too many folks interested. So Miss Vicky is wondering whether there are other folks out there who might be interested in getting together a second group. If you are, post here or send an email!

Billy Ballot explains MMP

Miss Vicky Fri Jul 27, 2007

I'm not sure if all of Miss Vicky's readers are aware that we'll be making a very important decision in the upcoming provincial election. I don't mean who will replace Ottawa Centre's retiring MPP, Richard Patten. Along with your ballot on October 10, you'll be asked to vote in a referendum on changing Ontario's electoral system from the current first-past-the-post model to a Mixed Member Proportional system.

The referendum is the outcome of the Citizen's Assembly on Electoral Reform, a group of randomly-selected citizens representing each electoral riding who took a close look at how we vote and are recommending an alternative. There are plenty of reasons to support this, not the least of which is the fact that a majority of Ontarians has not voted for a majority government in many, many decades. Yet we have had plenty of majority governments that forge ahead with their agenda despite having only the support of 30something percent of the population.

Anyway, here's a useful (if cheesy) little video explaining the proposed system.


Thanks, Laurence Wall

Miss Vicky Thu Jul 26, 2007

This morning, CBC Host Kathleen Petty and news reader Laurence Wall, having found a mutual admiration for 50s icons, held a small tribute to Sammy Davis Jr. There was a time on that show where any discussion of former Rat Pack members or squeaky-clean chanteuses like Doris Day (Petty's favourite) would be dripping with irony and sarcasm. Remember Anthony Germain's recorder lessons? Alan Neale's rendition of the Dallas theme song? Not so with Ms. Petty, who has yet to reveal she has a sense of irony. I so miss those morning laughs.... but I digress.

Remember Murphy Brown? And her baby, who would only be soothed by Brown's worst musical nightmare, Barry Manilow? I felt a bit like that this morning, as Wee G responsed to the Sammy tunes they played by sitting still and listening intently. During the second tune, he started to bop to the beat. G loves music, but has never responded quite like that.

It's not as bad as Murphy Brown's situation. Miss Vicky already has a collection of tunes from that era, mostly Ella Fitzgerald and Chet Baker. I suppose she could add some Rat Pack to her collection.

She is thanking the stars that Wee G did not show any interest in Doris Day.

Crack Pipe Miscellany

Miss Vicky Tue Jul 24, 2007

1) City Council may have killed Ottawa's safer inhalation program, but community groups and public health advocates are keeping up the fight. If you're interested in finding out what this program is and how it benefits our community and saves lives, attend the Community Forum on the Safer Crack Kit Program on Thursday.

On the agenda:

Dr. Lynne Leonard, Active Research Investigator in the HIV/AIDS and Harm Reduction Fields

Wendy Muckle, Executive Director, Ottawa Inner City Health

Kathleen Cummings, Executive Director, AIDS Committee of Ottawa

And more to be confirmed!

Where: Council Chambers, City Hall
When: 7 pm to 9 pm, July 26, 2007
For More Information call The AIDS Committee of Ottawa at 613-238-5014.

2) Kudos to David Reevely for his column in today's Citizen. He tracked the rumours about dealers distributing pipes and - surprise, surprise - found there are no actual cases to support this. Councillors who have been repeating the rumour and using it as justification for their votes could not pin down where they got the info - although they referenced the police - and the cops' drug squad couldn't corroborate.

3) Rob McLeod, the concerned citizen who started up the Free Crack Kits fundraising website, is doing fairly well, but still needs a lot of support to reach his goal (hint, hint, folks!). Fortunately, some of the agencies who currently deliver the program are exploring the possibility of taking it over, at least in the short term. This is not an ideal scenario - I don't want to see the city let off the hook for abdicating their responsibility for public health. But I'm glad that we can save some lives while we wait for council to knock some sense into itself or for the province to do something.

4) On the heels of the safer crack pipe cancellation, Mayor Larry, Chief Cop Vernon White and other politicians have begun a quest for a youth drug treatment facility (resurrecting, if I recall correctly, one of Bob Chiarelli's campaign promises). Although desperately needed in Ottawa (and indeed, Eastern Ontario, as the closest facility is Thunder Bay), this is not the answer to Ottawa's crack cocaine woes. And despite the attempt to bait and switch, this endeavour does not mitigate, and indeed has very little to do with, the loss of the crack pipe program. For one, treatment and harm reduction are complementary approaches to addiction and its impact on the community. Remember, we're supposed to have an "integrated" drug strategy.... As well, the crack pipe program is directed at adults only - the workers do not give the kits to minors, and indeed the biggest group of users are in the 35-45 age range. So yeah, bring on the youth treatment centre. But let's not abandon everyone else, ok?

Gordie update

Miss Vicky Fri Jul 20, 2007

A new perspective

We're probably overdue for an update on Gordie (aside from the "look at our son the media star" thread, of course). He's a little over 9 months now, and growing up faster than I could have imagined. I took the picture you see above last week, the day he started to crawl. He's getting better at it every day. He's pulling himself up to stand, too - on pretty much everything he can. This results in a few too many head bonks, on the coffee table especially. And we had to put the crib mattress down, after I went to check on him and found him standing up, clinging to the side (!).

He's eating really well - pretty much anything we give him. We're moving from pureed stuff to small chunks that he can grab and shovel in himself. He likes this immensely, as does Winston, who makes himself useful by cleaning up the mess below the high chair. I want to thank the Gastropub for giving me the idea of a sweet potato-rhubarb puree. We all enjoy it, only the Webgeek and I have it with bison steak.

Gordie's a pretty happy-go-lucky kid. He is generally game for whatever we decide to do. He was fantastic at Bluesfest, bopping away on his blanket, flirting like mad with everyone around us, and falling asleep in the stroller so Webgeek and I could enjoy the late shows. He seems to be reaping the benefits of those early Kindermusik classes - this kid's got some rhythm!

Bluesfest Hat

The months of Miss Vicky's maternity leave are flying by. I can't say I'm looking forward to returning to work. We have started discussions with some other Hintonburg and West Wellington parents about starting up a co-op day care. It will be a lot of work, but a good experience for us all, I think. There is not a lot of institutional daycare for infants in the 'burg, so we are creating our own spaces. There are some wonderful families involved, and we are looking forward to the little community we are creating.


I, tiny activist

Wee G Wed Jul 18, 2007

Wee G here. Pointing out my budding political activism and its resulting Citizen picture.

My Parents are pretty proud.

UPDATE: The Ottawa Sun (sorry, no online photo) also ran a similar photo. Apparently the camera loves me.

UP-UPDATE The Ottawa Sun Photo was also used on front page of the free English daily tabloid 24 Hours (warning: 15.87M PDF file)

UP-UP-UPDATE Our friend Accidental Altruist, who helped organize the Bed-In event, was on the cover of The Ottawa Metro (6.63M PDF file) with her daughter and two other supporters.

Pinklitva's Disturbing Dilemma

Miss Vicky Tue Jul 17, 2007

Miss Vicky received a disturbing note from her dear friend Miss Pink, known as pinklitva here at Miss Vicky's Offhand Remarks. It speaks for itself:

Dear Miss Vicky

I have invasive breast cancer and have to have a radical mastectomy this Friday. Can you advise me on what is the most appropriate thing to wear apres mastectomie?

Also, is it inappropriate to bring refreshments, such as rose wine, to serve to one's visitors whilst in hospital? Do you have any other suggestions of things to serve? What would the Brigadier Generals wife do in such a situation?

Miss Pink

Miss Pink, I am not entirely sure what to say. I spent the better part of the morning wanting to throw things out the window (I held back... the house is clean and I want to keep it that way for a little while, at least. Especially now that Gordie is crawling. But in my heart and mind I was picking up large, breakable objects and hurling them through panes of glass to the echinacea garden below). This really, really sucks.

The good news, if there can be such a thing, is that I am confident that you will approach this challenge like any other - with good humour and a "#*@%-you" attitude. You won't take any more guff from cancer than you would from anyone else, right? Right?

And I trust you have already stocked up on Audre Lorde and Barbara Ehrenreich to provide you with a little ass-kicking inspiration. Hell, you may have already integrated this diagnosis into your research plan, you little health geographer you.

As for your dilemma, Miss Pink, some mastectomy patients have been known to throw their breast(s) a going-away party. Given the short timeline, you may want to do yours after the fact.... I don't think the hospital would approve of pot luck (nor would the Brigadier's wife!). If you want to go with the "pink" theme for beverages, perhaps Kir Royale? Or a Cosmopolitan? Strawberry Milkshakes for the kidlings? Although given the circumstances, Miss Vicky would probably prefer a good belt of a peaty Islay single malt. in fact, she just might pick some this weekend to toast her dear friend from afar.

As for food, perhaps you'd like to have a little fun, like Cancer Bitch did with her party - round mounds of dip topped with an olive nipple, and so on. Miss Vicky's suggestions: some nice truffles: dark chocolate tipped with white, white chocolate tipped with dark... Those iced white cookies with the maraschino bit in the centre... Nice fluffy meringues with the tip dipped in pink icing.... Sliced tomatoes topped with a bocconcini ball on a bed of basil... There are some nice cupcakes on the banner of DIY not dieblog (which, I must add, has some great commentary, links and resources).

As for the après-surgery fashion quandary, well, only you can decide whether you want to go "amazon," find a prosthesis, go for reconstructive surgery. I get the impression that everyone deals with it differently. I did run into a couple of interesting things on the 'net, though - Rebel 1 in 8's post-mastectomy clothing is pretty fantastic (she even fashioned herself a one-cup bra after discovering they weren't on the market). And I also liked these knitted numbers. To hell with silicone! Give Miss Pink cashmere!

And here I was feeling all sorry for myself because my thyroid's gone bonkers again. I wish I was there to help you through this, bring you Kir Royales and meringues, hang out with your kidlings and generally do what I could. Damned Atlantic.

Westboro Community Association Survey

Miss Vicky Mon Jul 16, 2007

The revived Westboro Community Association is looking for input. What kinds of activities and initiatives would you like to see them take on? What should be the associations priorities? What issues are important to you? Visit The WCA website to find out how you can participate.

Crawl, don't walk, to Elgin St.

The Webgeek Sun Jul 15, 2007

A little short notice here, but anyone interested in tasty beer and/or strolling up and down city streets might want to join Steve and the boys from Beau's all Natural Brewing Company. They will be traipsing up and down Elgin St. from 2-8 PM this afternoon-to-evening on their Elgin St. pub crawl. I didn't see a steadfast itinerary, but I do know that their first stop will be the Standard Pub (360 Elgin -- I believe it was formerly Mash). Miss Vicky and I will be bussing down with Gordie to enjoy some of the earlier stops.

crack pipe roundup

Miss Vicky Fri Jul 13, 2007

Lest Miss Vicky's readers think she is out to lunch on the crack pipe issue (or in "wonderland", as one commenter put it), here is a roundup of folks who agree that killing the safer inhalation program was a bad idea:

The Ottawa Citizen Editorial Board

Citizen Columnist Daved Reevely

Dr. Dawg


Ariel at Dykes against Harper

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