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All In Hand

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

Market Watch

Miss Vicky Sat Jun 28, 2008

We stopped by the Parkdale Market this morning for some provisions. Since it is often difficult to identify local produce at the Market, Miss Vicky was pleased to see the addition of a stall with exclusively Ottawa-grown produce. It's the second from the end closest to the Carleton, and is run by Abboud farms (I think that's the name). Peppers and lebanese cukes look particularly yummy. Next door (third from the end) seemed to offer lots of local stuff too, from Quebec mainly. Strawberries, tiny carrots, beans, radishes, asparagus (although it has to be the end of asparagus season, surely) all came home with us, to supplement the CSA delivery of spinach, snap peas, scallions and garlic scapes. Should be a tasty week!

Intrigue or Immaturity?

Miss Vicky Thu Jun 26, 2008

Miss Vicky has not yet commented on City Hall's anonymous tell-all blogger, zero means zero... She really hasn't known what to say, or even what to think about it. Never a fan of the "Frank" approach (she can never quite determine whether that kind of writing is real satire, or simply and purely juvenile), Miss Vicky has nevertheless found herself wandering over there from time to time, just to see what is going on. She is not quite sure what to make of it, but it has offered a few chuckles and raised eyebrows.

And then there are the comments.... a whole narrative apart from the blog, with its own characters, twists, turns and intrigue. Well, intrigue of the kind most commonly found in high school or university student government. Anonymous commenters trying to out the anonymous bloggers, only to be outed by other anonymous commenters. The mind boggles. Or bloggles. Or something.

Then there are the spinoffs... specifically a blog set up in pretty much the exact format as zeromeanszero but with a pro-Larry, anti-Kirkpatrick slant. Um, yeah. When's the kegger, Miss Vicky wants to know? This is just like her undergrad days with the campus newspaper!

There is the odd interesting tidbit, though.... like yesterday's revelation that someone had submitted a Freedom of Information request for any and all correspondence between city staff and Citizen reporter Gary Dimmock (that would be the fellow that broke the news on the impending charges against Mayor Larry). Now THAT was interesting. The Citizen picked up on the story today, and according to zeromeanszero, someone else has filed an FOI request to find out who filed the first one. In the meantime, I can imagine it is feeling pretty darned chilly down at Lisgar and Elgin.....

Scooters! In Hintonburg!

Miss Vicky Wed Jun 25, 2008

So...... the new business moving in next door to Salon M, in the former location of Scissor and Comb: electric scooters!


Miss Vicky has a confession to make. She has harboured a quiet desire for a Vespa since high school. Can't you just see her in a nice little vintage orange number? Maybe with a sidecar for WeeG?

So imagine the torture Miss Vicky is experiencing now that a scooter shop is about to open (July 1, we hear) mere steps away from her front door. Especially now that the finances are....shall we say....tight? It's too bad, too, because a scooter would offer the perfect solution to the "too far to bike, gotta get back to the daycare so can't take the bus" dilemma that leads Miss Vicky to reluctantly take the car to work every day.


Well, it's still cool to have a scooter shop in the 'hood, no?

musings and changes

Miss Vicky Mon Jun 23, 2008

Miss Vicky would have loved to blog about the myriad of festivals and fun taking place in Ottawa this weekend.... from the guitar event in Hintonburg park on Sunday (sorry to have missed the boat on blogging that in advance....) or Saturday' s Movie Night at the HCC or the Aboriginal Arts Festival at Victoria Island or the Jazz Festival downtown or the Dragon Boat racing at Dow's Lake. She missed 'em all. Because she went whitewater rafting instead. Yep. Whitewater rafting. And it was very fun.

In addition to the frenzy of activity that comes along with the beginning of summer and Miss Vicky's ongoing 40th birthday celebrations, here at the Finishing School we have been a tad preoccupied by some big changes that lie ahead.... The Webgeek is heading back to school in the fall, to do a one-year graduate certificate program at Algonquin. He's going to pick up some new skills and get that much-needed piece of paper that says he can do what he has been doing for over a decade. Apparently governments like pieces of paper. Or at least the computer programs that sift through job competition applications do.

Now this transition is going to mean some big changes at home and here on the blog. Since we will be down one income, we're going to have to find some ways to cut our spending (sorry Gastropub, but our visits will have to be less frequent....sniff!). One thing we need to do is make the blog more self-sustaining. Miss Vicky tried to avoid it as long as she could, but it's not cheap to run a website where you're using your own software and not some pre-fab blogging engine. So Google ads will be popping up in the near future. We're not sure how much revenue that will yield but it should help. Miss Vicky has mused about other ways to cover the costs of the blog - taking ads from Kitchissippi businesses, for example, or maybe running a regular e-newsletter out of the blog that could also have sponsors. But she's not sure she wants to go that route. On the one hand, Miss Vicky's Offhand Remarks has given some pretty good coverage for local businesses over the years. On the other hand, Miss Vicky doesn't want the presence of advertising to raise questions about her objectivity. She writes about the businesses she loves because they are an important part of making this neighbourhood the great place it is. And that's all. Miss Vicky would love to hear some thoughts and suggestions from her readers. How would you react if there were advertising somewhere on the site?

In addition to making adjustments to the blog, we'll be making some adjustments at home. The Webgeek will be in classes three nights a week, which means Miss Vicky will be less available for volunteer commitments that involve evening meetings and events. She's still going to stay involved with the two commitments she's already made - to Newswest and Somerset West Community Health Centre, but she will have to confine her community activism to the cyber-world for the time being.

Lots of changes ahead. But good ones.


Hintonburg Garden update

Miss Vicky Wed Jun 18, 2008

So the folks who've been working the community garden space beside the Victoria Pharmacy are still looking for help and donations... of plants and (especially) rocks to help shore up the bed so they can do more planting. If you have something to donate, let Miss Vicky know and she will pass along the info! There will be another joint planting session soon - stay tuned!

Development consultations aplenty

Miss Vicky Tue Jun 17, 2008

Lots happening in Kitchissippi this week for those of us interested in how this community is developing.

Tonight, the Westboro Community Association is hosting a Village Meeting to discuss the proposed Westboro Station 2 development (at the Bourk site, Roosevelt and Richmond). It takes place at the Churchill Seniors Centre from 7 to 9pm.

The Bourk development is potentially precedent-setting in an area that is ripe for intensification - and which has recently passed a community design plan that seems to be gathering dust rather than being used to determine whether development applications fit within the vision set by and for the community. Check out the WCA's blog for info about the development, as well as links to some recent Ottawa Citizen articles about the matter.

(incidentally, Miss Vicky received a great update email from the WCA yesterday... they have been doing an excellent job revitalizing that association. Westboro residents should consider paying the eminently reasonable $10 membership fee and joining this great organization. The more people involved, the more effective a voice they can be for the community).

Shifting a bit to the east, we find ourselves in the midst of a similar exercise to the one that resulted in the now-dusty community design plan in Westboro. Except the Wellington West CDP and Hintonburg Neighbourhood Planning Initiative is supposed to be different, resulting in three plans, all interconnected. There is a lot of info up on the City's site (although it does require some surfing to get the whole picture). There is an open house on the community's draft recommendations to date tomorrow (Wednesday, June 18) at the Hintonburg Community Centre. There will be presentations at 6, 7 and 8pm, as well as displays and an opportunity to discuss the plans informally with members of the Continuity Task Force, city staff and consultants.

Miss Vicky has a couple of competing events but will try to get there for the 7 or 8pm presentations. She will also be relying on you to share your thoughts here after the event!

Speaking of competing events, the Somerset West Community Health Centre's Annual General Meeting takes place on Wednesday evening from 5pm to 7:30pm at the Odawa Native Friendship Centre on Stirling. Many folks in Hintonburg and Wellington West may not be aware that the SWCHC is our community health centre and runs some amazing programs both at the Centre and elsewhere in the community - from seniors services to support for rooming house residents to well baby clinics to youth drop-ins and more. And of course they have a great health clinic. Miss Vicky has been privileged to serve on the Board of Directors this year and will be participating again next year. The AGM is a great chance to find out what we do and what our plans are for the future.

Trucks and Rainstorms and Chicken, oh my.

The Webgeek Mon Jun 16, 2008

Webgeek here.

Yesterday was my second Father's Day as a real, live dad -- and it was the best one yet! Thankfully Vicky was quite mobile despite the Triathlon the day before (yay for judicious training schedules, I say). The day started with coffee in bed and several gifts; plaid "dad" shorts & a great shirt (The Webgeek doesn't do ties if he can at all avoid it); a gift certificate for running shoes, so I can join Vicky in the Hintonburg 5k (though I think I found a better event for my sensibilities); a phenominal collection of children's music; and getting to hear my son wish me a "hap-py faa-duhsday" for the first time. This was followed by a nice walk in the 'hood up to Bridgehead for more coffe and Harvest Loaf for "breakfast" (a norfolk pork pie).

Next we packed up the family and went out to Mothercraft's "touch a truck" event. Gordie was in heaven. He got to "drive" a "ci-tee bus" (OC Transpo bus), a "rac-eh car" (race car), a "front-end 'oader" (front end loader), a "po-eace boat" (police boat) and an "am-u-lance"(ambulance, though it was actually the police tactical unit's smaller response vehicle -- a mistake I didn't feel like correcting). We also saw "robots" (a remote control lawn mower that puts our roomba to shame and the police tactical unit remote bomb robot) and got to "touch" (walk up to and dance excitedly around ) fire trucks and snow plows, a "TV truck" and a book mobile too. Then it was home for a nice long nap for Wee G -- Dad showered and played video games.

Next we were supposed to go to WestFest for festival food and music. Unfortunately, the skies opened up and our power got knocked out. So after a bit of a regroup, and break in the weather, we hoofed it over to The Foolish Chicken -- a not-so-surprisingly popular dad's day dinner locale, as we discovered -- for a tasty, fun filled family meal. Super fast , friendly service; quick answers about allergy concerns and a very warm, inviting environment (and Beau's on tap!) made a perfect cap to a great day.

Triathelete: a pictorial

The Webgeek Sun Jun 15, 2008

Start time: 8:50 AM

Finished the Swim (200m): 8:56 AM*

Transition area 1: 8:58 AM*

Starting the bike ride: 9:01 AM*


Back from bike ride (10km): 9:27 AM*

Transition area 2: 9:28 AM*

Starting Run: 9:29 AM*

Triumphantly Finishing Run (2.5 km): 9:44:04 AM
*interim times approximated


Big Weekend

Miss Vicky Fri Jun 13, 2008

So, you already know about Westfest. And the Kitchicoo Garage Sale (14 Sherbrooke Ave, Saturday, 8am to 1pm!). And Touch-a-truck at Westgate on Father's Day..... but Miss Vicky has remained relatively mum about one thing she's doing this weekend: The Ottawa Riverkeeper Triathlon.

Yep. She's doing it. Well, it's not a full-blown triathlon, but what is known as a Try-a-tri - a shorter distance designed for new or recreational triathletes. The components of the race are a 200m swim, 10k bike ride, and 2.5k run. Which is more than enough to give Miss Vicky plenty of butterflies about tomorrow morning, thank you very much.

You may be wondering what gave Miss Vicky the notion of attempting a tri - even a baby tri like this one. It's actually something she has been considering doing for quite some time - ever since she got back into Master's swimming a few years ago. She set a private goal for herself of trying it when she turned 40. Then she got pregnant, ran for office, had a baby, had some thyroid issues, got pregnant again.... let's just say Miss Vicky's relationship with regular exercise has been on-again, off-again, shall we?

So when the 40th birthday actually arrived, and Miss Vicky was suddenly not pregnant any more, it was time to revisit the goal. Thanks to the guidance of the Kitchissippi Times Running Club, she started running in February, and has been quietly plugging away at her training since then. The bike and swim training has not been as regular or as intense as the running, but she's doing it anyway. Tomorrow. Yikes!

What a deal

Miss Vicky Thu Jun 12, 2008

So the latest report from the city's Auditor general had a few interesting little tidbits. We'll leave aside the no-brainers like nepotism in city hiring, inaccurate responses from the 311 info line (poor training and information management practices, maybe?),too-infrequent food inspections (understaffing, perhaps?), and poor reporting on costs of the now-cancelled LRT plan to elected officials (well, duh). Miss Vicky was particularly intrigued by this news that developers are routinely undercharged for the cost of processing applications for development - to the tune of 4.3 million dollars a year. Seems the city only gets back approximately 60% of what it costs... and they don't even try to recoup the rest. They say it's tradition. They say they're going to go for 85% this year. Way to aim high, bureaucrats!

Miss Vicky wants to know if she can get away with paying 60% of her bills. Maybe she'll try it next time she takes the bus. Or shells out for swimming. Or gets a dog license. Or pays her water bill. "Sorry, I hear the rule of thumb is that the city only expects 60%... so here you go". Think it will work?


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