31 December 2008

Rewind and Fast Forward through 2008

[I decided to save some creative time and edited our Christmas letter just slightly for my blog readers. Don't worry, I didn't trim out any of the "good stuff" -- besides, regular readers will have already read more detail in posts through the year!]

As you may know, 2008 was a busy year for Those DeWolfes. January turned out to be very busy at work for me as digitization projects started to (finally) roll in, complete with deadlines but it was also the month that Hubby and I both got new digital SLR cameras. In February, we tackled renovations of the bathroom in the townhouse which turned out to be a bit tricker than we had hoped and coincided with Hubby coming down with pneumonia. In March, Kiddo celebrated her 7th birthday with an hour of bouncing, running, jumping and spinning at Victoria Gymnastics. One of her gifts was a Wii, something that turned out to be fun for the whole family. A few weeks later, Hubby rang in his 40th birthday with a pub crawl and the gift of LEGO robotics -- he immediately set about designing a SwifferBot to go after cat hair and random dust on the main floor. May found us all working on various creative things -- some we started, some we finished and some we shared (Kiddo and I made a batch of recycled crayons and wrote up a tutorial that we posted online).

June was very busy for Kiddo, especially. She went go-carting with Hubby, had major dental work (some extractions and 8 fillings!), dressed like a pirate and walked in the Buccaneer Days parade, rode a ferris wheel for the first time (the only midway ride I can tolerate), and finished grade one! At the end of the month, I celebrated my birthday (turning 39) with a family brunch and a night out.

In July Hubby and Kiddo made a little stop-motion animation film based on Crazy Frog (it's on YouTube if you have yet to see it). After that, we took a much needed family vacation. In a little over a week we drove all the way to the top of Vancouver Island and back, stopping here and there along the way. The goal was for Kiddo to see Port Alice -- and stand in front of the "welcome" sign there. We did that as well as seeing many other communities that were new to all of us -- prior to the trip, the furthest north on the Island either Hubby or I had been was to Courtenay and Comox. It was a great trip, overall, though we were all glad to get home. Unfortunately, that welcome home turned out to be pretty crummy as the Strata had authorized someone to climb into our property and pressure wash the fence, destroying a few hundred dollars in plants and property in the process. Needless to say, that sealed the deal for our wanting to move.

August started with hiring a Realtor and looking at houses but after getting close to putting in an offer, we realized we needed to sell our townhouse first and thus began an intense six weeks of preparation. We packed, and packed, and packed until our storage locker was full. Then we had a home stager come in (a service provided by the Realtor) who told us we still had too much stuff. GAH! So, we got a U-Pack and filled it, too. Meanwhile, Hubby finished his sculpture of Cthulhu and we moved it to a friend's backyard for safe-keeping (there are photos a-plenty online and a video too if you want to get a closer look).

September started with painting and having the carpets replaced then we put the finishing touches on the staging and listed the townhouse September 15th. Inside a week we had an offer which we accepted and were able to use that to put an offer in on a lovely older home that had plenty of quirks -- just about right for us. By the first week of October, everything was signed-off and by Thanksgiving we were living under a new roof just as the real estate market was collapsing across the country!

With the new address came a new school for Kiddo -- she is now attending a traditional school which means wearing a uniform (though it's not terribly strict). She has adapted well and seems to be thriving in the split grade 1/2 classroom; she is now reading at a grade 7 level and is also ahead in math and science.

Right away, we started renovations, replacing the interior stairs (they were narrow and lacked sufficient clearance) and arranging to have the old asbestos-laced insulation removed from the attic and replaced. By late November we were able to get the U-Pack delivered! I did two craft fairs back to back at the end of November and beginning of December which we followed with a trip to the mainland (IKEA!) and then we all settled in to getting things settled -- putting up shelving, unpacking, sorting, and decorating for Christmas.

And then the snow-dump of 2008 hit we got a rare white Christmas in Victoria (in fact it was the first time since 1971 that there was snow coast to coast across Canada).

As always, thanks for reading; I'd like to wish you all the best in 2009!

27 December 2008

Rift in my personal time-space contiuum.

I cannot explain this any other way; perhaps it is just how one fractures as a parent. Today I have felt both youthful and also as old as dirt.

On one hand, I had a long chat with my niece (she is 16) via Facebook (I do this fairly often now as she is willing to talk to me that way and is frequently logged in), having a good laugh that we liked many of the same albums and artists. This -- along with staying in touch with pop culture in general (watching SNL, reading BoingBoing, etc.) -- makes me feel youthful.

A half-hour later, I was explaining to Kiddo how I used to sing the "Miss Mary Had a Steamboat" rhyme* at school while bouncing a tennis ball in a knee-high stocking on the school wall under and over my legs. Yeah... might as well have been chasing a barrel hoop with a stick, right? Old. As. Dirt.

Sigh.

.. .. .. .. ..


*This rhyme varies depending on where you grew up -- some will remember it as Miss Suzie, others as Miss Mary; some as a steamboat, others as a tug boat and so on. This is how I remember it:

Miss Mary had a steamboat, the steamboat had a bell,
Miss Mary went to heaven, the steamboat went to --

Hello operator, give me number nine,
and if you disconnect me, I'll kick you right ---

Behind the 'fridgerator, there was a piece of glass
Miss Mary sat upon it, and broke her big fat ---

Ask me no more questions, I'll tell you no more lies,
the boys are in the bathroom zipping up their ---

Flies are in the city, and bees are in the park
where boys and girls are having fun, kissing in the DARK DARK DARK!

Here are some other versions along with some much ruder rhymes. Did you sing this one as a kid? Do you remember the ball-in-a-stocking thing?

25 December 2008

And so that was Christmas....

=Phew=

Down to three of us again. As Christmases go, this was a good one; it's so much easier without having to bundle up, load the van and drive to one house or another even if the trade off was cleaning, cooking and re-arranging furniture.

Hubby did all the cooking (thank you!!!) and I pitched in with clean-up and whatever else I could do (including shovelling a lot of snow and slushy ice off the road outside so that family had somewhere to safely park). We managed to (over) feed everyone and the gifts overflowed. I'm very thankful for everything I received -- including some Skull-candy headphones, an iPod touch, dvds, an LG Rumor cell phone, and a Fabricland membership that doesn't expire until the end of 2011. I am spoiled.

Kiddo put herself to bed not long after everyone left and is soundly sleeping while we watch some gifted DVDs and play with our toys.

I hope your Christmases were as pleasant as ours!

23 December 2008

Happy Christmas, dear readers.

(or Happy holiday of your choice, but this post is rather Christmas-y)

Our Night Before Christmas

On the night before Christmas, we're all settled down
as more snowfall warnings are threat'ning our town
Our pantry is stocked and our shovel is near
we're ready for family traveling here.

We've checked in with Norad and Santa's en route
(and while the site's cheesy we still think it's cute)
As Kiddo gets bathed and gets ready for bed
we're doing some challenging math in our heads

We have to seat ten for our family dinner
(is it wrong to wish we were collectively thinner?)
The table will have to be moved with some care
thank goodness that Hubby picked up extra chairs!

The ham is defrosting, the turkey is too,
and Hubby baked cheesecakes for everyone, WOO!
The rest of the spread will be easy to prep
(some peeling, some mashing, a few other steps).

The hand-crafted gifts I've been making are done
and I hope that the new owners think they are fun.
The rest of the presents are wrapped 'neath the tree
and stockings are hung in a row -- one, two, three.

"We're finished! We're ready, now what do we do?"
We'll curl up and watch an old movie or two.
We've downloaded Lemmings to kill the last hours
before we awake to the snow or rain showers.

But whatever happens, whatever the weather
we'll celebrate Christmas, at our home, together.
My last wish this season is for each of you
Merry Christmas to all and a fine New Year too!


--Cheryl

(with apologies to Clement C. Moore)

22 December 2008

This is getting annoying.


campus_snow
Originally uploaded by triviaqueen
OK, so, it's December 22. Exams are over. Classes are done. No one *needs* to be on campus and yet I made the trek into work today because the university is open. There is a message on the main website proclaiming that the campus has only closed twice since 1963 due to inclement weather. Great.

I wish I had brought more cookies. And more coffee.

The only silver lining on this big grey cloud is that the whole campus looks like a Christmas card -- all snowy and sparkling, with ample opportunities for photos like this one.

20 December 2008

More snow.


moresnow1
Originally uploaded by triviaqueen
Started snowing again around dinnertime and piled up fairly quickly... it is still snowing as I type. They are forecasting up to 20 centimetres overnight (almost 8 inches) which is really annoying on top of the four inches that had yet to melt from the last dump.

Kiddo is spending the night at her Granny's; we'll see how the roads are in the morning before we judge whether to drive, walk or bus to get her home.

We're hosting an open house here tomorrow so my day was largely spent tidying, unpacking, and stowing things but the weather may mean a small turnout.

16 December 2008

I am ignoring the snow

It's bitter cold here -- Victorians are actually having to use the words "wind chill factor" in describing the world outdoors and that's exactly why I don't live in the Prairies! So, instead, here are some festive links to warm your mouse-clicking fingers:

Despite his awesome PR, lots of kids are scared of Santa. Here's proof.

Crafting with kids indoors during the winter weather? Here's some ridiculously simple paper ornaments that can be made from anything from fancy scrapbooking paper to recycled flyers. Or how about a kid-version of these beaded napkin rings? Easily done with chenille stems and plastic beads.

On next year's Christmas crafting list (because I am out of time this year, damnit!) this cute little embroidered weiner-dog reindeer and these simple but so effective scrapcraft bird ornaments.

Is it festive downloads you seek? How about a stop-motion-animation Yule Log Screensaver by PES or a free mp3 m4a by the Barenaked Ladies? Or you can decorate your own Gingerbread (wo)man online care of Safeway.

And for my fellow trivia-lovers: 12 Things You Might Not Know about A Christmas Story. [Psst! If you don't own this most awesome movie, go buy a copy on Amazon! It is sooo much better without ad interruptions and network editing: A Christmas Story (Two-Disc Special Edition)!]

14 December 2008

25 Things About Me Meme

Someone tagged me on Facebook but I thought I would repeat this here even if most of you probably know these things, it saves me thinking about what to write :)



Rules: Once you’ve been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged . You have to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, it’s because I want to know more about you.

[My rule: I don't tag others so if you feel like participating, go ahead and tag yourself for me.]

1. I have worked for the same employer for 20 years, but the employer doesn't count the first four years of my time as a casual staffer.
2. One summer I worked as a janitor cleaning places as varied as the Office of the Premier to the public washrooms at Fisherman's Wharf.
3. During my four years at university, I moved 13 times.
4. I don't get along with roommates very well.
5. My nickname of "Triviaqueen" was given to me by a friend almost 20 years ago because my brain seems to hang on to otherwise useless pop culture trivia (one-hit wonders, cast lists from sit-coms, and random facts).
6. I have a B.A. in History and a Certificate in Entry Level Plumbing.
7. I usually have a dozen or more projects "in progress" from crafts to writing to websites.
8. My husband thinks I have an 8 day attention span on any given project. He may not be wrong.
9. When asked what my favourite colour is, I usually answer green but the colour that I seem to surround myself with most is orange.
10. I procrastinate constantly but sometimes I manage to get stuff done while avoiding other stuff.
11. I wrote and drew a single-panel comic called Procrastoman during my fourth year of University.
12. I chose the name Creative Miscellany for my craft business because I couldn't settle on one type of craft.
13. I drink at least 16 oz of coffee a day -- though usually I average about 3 times that.
14. I'm not picky about coffee but I prefer dark roasts with some cream.
15. Some of my favourite movies are animated.
16. I will tell you the glass is half-full but I am not an optimist.
17. I vote any time I am given the chance.
18. It took me three attempts to pass my driving test.
19. One of the failures was due to my inability to get out of a rare Victoria snowbank in which I had parallel parked.
20. When asked if I were a tree what kind of tree I would be, I answer Arbutus -- a twisty, broad-leaf evergreen native to the West Coast complete with a showy red curly outer bark.
21. I consider myself a cat-person.
22. I love to grow things in the garden but I have a laisez-faire attitude toward weeding and maintenance.
23. I wear size 8 1/2 shoes.
24. I am a fan of all things Google but secretly fear they have inched ahead of Microsoft, vying for the position of Global Digital Overlord.
25. My favourite treat at Dairy Queen is a Peanut Buster Parfait made with hot caramel sauce instead of chocolate.

Fun in the Snow


trike_stuck
Originally uploaded by triviaqueen
Kiddo was up and outside before breakfast which meant we were too. But, it was worth it to see the big grin on her face. She even spent a little time over at the neighbours' place (once her Dad lifted her over the back fence) -- they have a daughter about a year younger than Kiddo. She tried to use her trike but that didn't work... so she made snow-angels, tracks, snowballs, and now she's outside with Hubby trying to build a snow-fort. Brrr.

I'm waiting for some ingredients to thaw then I'll be baking cookies. Mmmm.

13 December 2008

Snow!


Yup. A day later than originally forecast but Victoria got snow late this evening. Pretty good chance it'll stick around until Kiddo gets up in the morning. Of course there is also a pretty good chance she'll be up around dawn.

11 December 2008

History for the finding....


digital_launch
Originally uploaded by triviaqueen
Today I was happy to attend the Times-Colonist/University of Victoria launch of BritishColonist.ca, two years of collaboration resulting in the digitization and mounting of the first 52 years of the British Colonist (later Victoria Colonist) newspaper. The coverage starts with the first issue, published December 11th 1858 and runs through to June 1910. It is fully searchable (by keyword or advanced boolean searches) or you can browse by year/date.

While I didn't work on this project, I hope to work on projects that will support that site or grow from it.

The event included refreshments (drinks, light snacks, and a cake) provided by Feys & Hobbs and I was definitely the odd one out among the "bigwigs." The Libraries were represented by 7 librarians, two PEA (Professional Employees) members and me; the University was also represented by one VP, a Dean and an Associate Dean and a handful of other faculty. The remainder of the attendees were largely Times Colonist staff and others involved in the project at the management level. There were also a handful of local politicians in attendance including MP Denise Savoie and a few local mayors.

There were also special appearances by Sir James Douglas, Amor de Cosmos, and some of their contemporaries -- or rather by actors portraying them.

10 December 2008

Ahhhh. Better.

Now that my sewing machine is working again (=ahem=) I can get on with Christmas gift giving. This is the first item -- a custom ballet Huggitz (named Tabitha) for my niece who is in ballet (if any relatives are reading, Shhh! it's a surprise).

I think I will make her some other things too, or maybe give her a family of finger puppets or a book.

I also realize I need to reconsider what I am charging for my Huggitz dolls. I actually paid attention to this one which took about two and a half hours start-to-finish (planning, hand-stitching, sewing, stuffing and finishing). I have been listing dolls this size at about $25 to $30 but I think I need to up that a bit so that I am making more than minimum wage. OTOH, I think that might be a fair wholesale price. We'll see.

I have a few more projects to sew before the 25th but this was the one I wanted to make sure I got done. Yay!

09 December 2008

I am a moron.

Update to my earlier post. I negotiated rush-hour traffic through the heart of the Colwood crawl, hauled my Soviet-weight machine into Sawyer's and plunked it on the counter. The repair guy came out, opened the cover, shuffled something aside and voilà. He deserves a round of applause for not laughing at me -- or at least waiting until I had left the store. I feel like a complete idiot/moron but at least my sewing machine is working and I can craft it up, woo-hoo!

Disconnected

I am feeling like December snuck up on me and I am panicking about what is left to get done, giftwise.

It doesn't help that somehow in the move I managed to lose the bobbin case for my sewing machine, rendering it useless. I have been trying to track down a replacement and, to that end, I will be taking my machine to Sawyer's Sewing Center tonight to see if they have anything in stock (they said they might be able to order a replacement for $40 -- about what my Dad paid for the machine in the first place). I've already checked eBay so if Sawyer's can't help (or if they have to do a special order) I will likely have to borrow another machine to put together the few things I was planning to craft.

Not even putting up the tree and watching Rankin-Bass specials seems to have put me in the mood... I am just in Holiday neutral this year. Sigh.

07 December 2008

Big City Getaway


freeway2
Originally uploaded by triviaqueen
Thursday night we hopped on a ferry to Vancouver (well, actually Richmond). We checked into the Holiday Inn and relaxed before a full day of shopping.

Friday morning we hit Lansdowne Centre in Richmond (almost one-stop for house and home with Best Buy, Winners, Home Sense, Jysk, Ming Wo, Home Hardware, Future Shop and Zellers, among others) and filled one corner of the van. Next was IKEA .... three hours later (yes! three freaking hours!) we emerged with some Christmas gifts and several shelving and sorting solutions plus a few things we probably didn't need but wanted anyway. The receipt was over 2 feet long and when we were done, the back of the van was quite full.

After that drunken spree, we hit Free Geek for an LCD monitor then it was off to Granville Island for some shopping and playtime for Kiddo before dinner with a friend.

After dinner, one quick pitstop and it was back to the hotel for the night. Saturday morning we got up, hit Yaohan (for green tea!!) and Aberdeen (Daiso!!) then made our way to Port Coquitlam to see my brother.

Finally we were a ferry-ride from home but decided to do so via Nanaimo so that we could see the lights in Ladysmith. They were pretty and we were tired so with a detour for groceries we headed home.

Today we installed many of the shelves and then promptly filled them. Sigh.

01 December 2008

A couple of causes.

I don't often use this blog as a soapbox -- especially for more global causes -- partly because I generally don't like preaching but also because, let's face it, I don't have a high enough readership. However, I am sharing these two videos with you because they are well made videos, in addition to being public service announcements, basically.

First up is a video from EUtube (clever) called "AIDS: remember me?" I think it is especially appropriate for World AIDS Day in that it emphasizes the lack of education about AIDS in the Western world rather than in Africa which is what gets most of the press these days. [Warning: includes sexually suggestive scenes. Parental Guidance is advised.]



Next, on this first day of December, is a message from The Advent Conspiracy. The concept is simple: spend less on crap, give more to others. It comes from a Christian group (five pastors got together in 2006 to pool money to provide fresh water to a town in a developing country) and the message, while it includes worship, is more anti-consumerism than pro-church.



I really wanted this Christmas to be more about handmade gifts than plastic and wires but life has been busy. However, as I hung Kiddo's advent pocket quilt last night, I was wondering how I could better fill it with stuff she would like that won't end up broken in the bottom of a drawer. I am still thinking; I'll let you know how that goes.

30 November 2008

Social Sunday


grid_meeting
Originally uploaded by triviaqueen
As much as yesterday was about smiling at strangers, today was relaxing with friends old and new.

Late last night we got a last minute invite to brunch which turned out to be wonderfully refreshing and just what I needed.

After brunch, Hubby dropped me off and I unpacked and shuffled, boxes then tidied and cleaned the house (with the help of Robbie the Roomba and our faithful dishwasher, too).

Hubby returned and cooked up a nice pot of chicken-corn chowder then at 7:00 a few "gridders" showed up for the monthly meet. We chose both December's and January's grids. Owing to it being a school night, the meeting was brief so that the kids could get a close-to-regular night of sleep. (And, thanks to Kiddo getting lots of playtime today, she was asleep within moments of hitting the pillow.)

Back to work tomorrow but just a four day week. Thursday night we'll be heading to Vancouver, staying until Saturday. My homework between then and now will include studying the IKEA catalog.

29 November 2008

One fewer thing on the To Do list

Phew.

After I'd gotten home, eaten dinner and sat for a moment, Hubby looked at me and said, "You look beat down and grumpy."

I looked at him and said, "I just worked six and a half hours retail. What do you expect?" And truthfully, I worked that without all the breaks I am used to either. I ate at my booth and only managed to get one brief bathroom break in the morning.

Add to that the fact that when I arrived, there was no table for me (a snafu with my cheque not making it from the school office to the PAC). Thankfully, the coordinator worked hard to find me a space. Unfortunately, that left me with 20 minutes to set up instead of the hour I'd been counting on. That meant I just started unpacking and hoped for the best. It also meant I didn't get a lot of things staged the way I wanted, although I did come up with the bright idea of tipping a wicker laundry basket on its side.

There was a lot of traffic, and I made more than the cost of my table, but not a lot more. However, some tables didn't even do that well, so I feel OK about the day.

Craft Fair Today!

Cloverdale Traditional School
Quadra at Cloverdale
10-4, admission by donation.

I hope to see some of you there;
these sock monsters really need
new homes!

27 November 2008

Happy (second) Thanksgiving

Greetings and well-wishes to readers south of the border; up here, we celebrated Thanksgiving in the midst of our move back in October. That will not stop us from having a turkey dinner tonight, though -- something we started a few years back because (a) we like turkey and (b) we actually do have a lot for which to be thankful.

Here are some things (outside the obvious -- friends, family, food, water, shelter) for which I am thankful this year.

For technology. Yup, I have a love-hate relationship with it -- the internet, all the gadgets and all the constant change -- but without it, Hubby and I might have to work retail (shudder).

For Victoria. Another love-hate relationship but when we started looking elsewhere for a place to live, nothing measured up. I'm happy we stayed, and I'm happy to still live in the City of Victoria with all its political dysfunction.

For my muse. Whatever weird influence it is that comes and goes but that fuels my creativity, I'm thankful. I get lots of positive feedback about things I create -- writing, knitting, sewing, painting, and so on -- enough that I know it really is what I want to do "when I grow up."

For you. Yes, you! Thanks for reading, even if you don't comment.

26 November 2008

Effing Funny.

Regular reader(s) will know I am a fan of Gordon Ramsay. I also watch an unhealthy number of hours of cooking shows so, unlike the "normal people" in this video, I could read between the lines and figure out what Mister Ramsay was getting at. Still, this is a really effing funny video (full of strong effing language -- consider yourself warned):



The recipe they are trying to follow is this one for Brussels sprout and goat’s cheese souffles which -- I'm sorry Chef -- does not sound the least bit appetizing even before these geeks got hold of it.

25 November 2008

The week of insanity continues....

Hubby has been busy tackling some of the little details around the house (staining the railing and handrail, installing trim, planning how to put in a new floor in the attic) while I've been getting ready for the Cloverdale Traditional School Craft Fair on Saturday.

Tomorrow after work I will head to my Mom's to finish stitching up the finger puppets I've made since my sewing machine is still not fit for use. That'll be the last of the stock for this show.

The UPack pod will be delivered late this week, to be unpacked Friday (hooray! The rest of our furniture! And STUFF! Christmas stuff even! And DVDs! And .... STUFFF!!!!). Should be a fun test to see how much more we can cram into this place....

Meanwhile at work, we've (finally) started the next digitization project -- a collection of personal documents (diaries, artwork, official documents, artifacts and photos) including details of an internment camp, local history, and Georgian royalty. I'll share more details when we're ready to launch.

Oh, and Kiddo brings home her first report card from the new school this Friday! Here's hoping we won't need a *long* talk with the teacher next week.

23 November 2008

Another packed weekend.

Friday: Renos and parental-based errands, lunch at 1550s, more renos.

Saturday: Renos continue. Paint purchased and applied (one tin of mis-tint in a tan/coffee shade for the office and spare bedroom and one tin of Behr "Pot of Cream" -- off-white -- for the kitchen and stairs). Kiddo got to escape reno-land for a while; she went out with her Nana to see the Santa Parade.

Sunday: Finished the damned renos. (OK, not completely finished, there's still details to work out, but finished enough for a big, bold Mission Accomplished banner as suggested by Hubby.) Sewed some finger puppets (more to sew later this week) and out for an afternoon of live theatre (Brilliant! at the Belfry -- totally worth the ticket price) then food with friends at Fifth Street Bar & Grill. This evening, I've been trying to inventory all my crafts in preparation for next weekend's craft fair.



Which reminds me:

If you are in Victoria, stop by the Cloverdale Traditional School Craft Fair (Quadra at Cloverdale) this Saturday November 29th from 10-4. Admission is by donation. Say you read it about it on my blog and get a free gift!

I will also have a table at the little craft fair at work on December 3rd.

18 November 2008

City in an Economic Bubble

It's weird but even though there are news stories everywhere about businesses failing, massive layoffs, real estate prices plummeting and other assorted doom and gloom, Victoria seems to be okay at the moment. Sure there are plenty of storefronts for lease and a few big names have closed their doors (like mega-housewares store Linens n' Things and local landmark Standard Furniture) but people are still buying stuff; the malls are still packed. [While I'm on the subject, how did I miss the golden child of 80s retail going under earlier this year?]

I know at some point the bubble will pop here too, we are already seeing it with housing prices and sales. Our Realtor told us that about 80 Realtors decided not to renew their licenses for November and housing sales are down about 60% -- not to mention some big projects stopping at the hole-in-the-ground stage. One project at Bear Mountain just laid off 65 construction workers ("Merry Christmas").

Of course, it is also possible that my fellow Victorians have their collective heads in their asses. [shrug]

In the meantime, I won't be buying anyone a gift card this season and although I can't commit to 100% handmade this year, several people will be getting handcrafted gifts from me (assuming I can find the bobbin case for my sewing machine).

16 November 2008

Full Saturday

After having a nice breakfast out (at Floyd's Diner 2 -- yummm!) we voted. On our way home, we ran into our neighbour and met his daughter who is a little younger than Kiddo. They decided to have an impromptu playdate which made everyone pretty happy for the next hour or so as Hubby and I got to work on projects around the house.

Since the sun was out, I decided it was time to put together the wheelbarrow and the lawnmower and put them to use. Then I realized I needed an extension cord for the lawnmower. So I went out to Canadian Tire to grab one, came home and realized it was not quite long enough to get to the very back of the back yard and just barely long enough to do the front corner. Ah well. The lawn is (mostly) mowed now and my feet only got a little muddy in the process.

lawn_mowed

After that I pitched in with the mudding and taping of the drywall that Hubby has been painstakingly putting up all week. Worked on that for about two hours, broke for dinner (Crown Palace, mmmm) and right back to it until 8:00.

new_basement_wall

Then we spent about an hour trying to find election results anywhere -- our local media really let us down. Luckily, people on Vibrant Victoria were on the ball, posting numbers they saw on commercial breaks, heard on the radio, or found on Twitter (can you believe the Times Colonist has a Twitter feed??). Finally, at 10:00 A-News kicked in with an "election special" but by 10:30 I was restless and went back to mudding the walls for another hour after which I settled in to watch SNL.

So... busy day, but productive. I'm good with that.

12 November 2008

Changes in my reading habits.


current_reading
Originally uploaded by triviaqueen
Well, there's been one major change in the last couple of years but it isn't the type of book I read, it's where. Somehow my brain rewired itself and now I find I can read on the bus. Not any bus but my regular transit routes. I suspect it's just a matter of my body anticipating bumps, turns and regular stopping and starting patterns but I'll take what I can get.

It started because some morning buses offer free copies of the newspaper and I would glance at headlines. Then I found myself reading a paragraph or two, then whole articles.

Now, after years of staring out the window, watching other commuters, listening to mindless pop or even knitting (which I can't do when the bus is crowded anyway), I can even read books.

It is a small victory, but a victory none-the-less, and one which I will happily claim.

09 November 2008

Sunday night grumbles...

Grumble #1. There's an ad running in high rotation right now about climate change, paid for by LiveSmart BC. In the ad the woman states that,
"We just don't have the minus thirty, minus forty winters like we used to and that's what we need to get rid of the pine beetles. Everybody needs to do their part."
And I want to know what, exactly, I can do to make sure that Prince George gets a minus forty winter. (Oh, I know, there's a long domino effect implied but I really, really resent the oversimplification.)

Grumble #2. Yesterday I went downtown to try and pick up a gift card for our niece from Lululemon. I circled the area twice looking for parking -- there was none available on the street and the parkade on lower Yates was full with a 6 car lineup. The new furniture store across from the parkade was lined up out the door; they were actually letting just one or two people in at a time. I finally found somewhere to park on Fisgard, two and a half blocks away from our destination. Every store we passed was crowded and we had to wait in line to purchase the gift card. There is no way you can convince me that our economy is in the sh*tter.

Now, you kids, get off my lawwwwn!

Our Little Chef


little_chef
Originally uploaded by triviaqueen
Kiddo was chipper this morning -- much more so than Hubby or I -- and we joked that she should cook us breakfast. Long story short, she decided she was ready to learn but was still wary of the stove so we agreed on cooking pancakes using the electric frying pan.

After a slight disaster with the batter (she mixed up the salt and sugar first time around) she did perfectly well... until the very last pancake when she burned herself. Surprisingly, she didn't panic or cry, but also didn't hold her hand under the cold water long enough so it got a bit nasty.

Now, despite her finger being a bit "sensitive," she is OK (and now knows what a burn feels like and what to do if it happens again) and is looking forward to expanding her cooking from the microwave to the frying pan! I am ridiculously proud of her.

06 November 2008

Crafty Tutorial Time!

I finally finished the tutorial for the Creepy Severed Body Parts Garland I whipped up for Halloween....




The garland itself is a knit intestine; pinned to the innards are various severed felt body parts. The full PDF is available for download over at ThoseDeWolfes.com.

05 November 2008

Awesomeness.

1. Awesome Costume.

Saw this in the DIY Halloween pool on Flickr... so very awesome. The tracks run down the kid's legs so when he kneels they look like treads.

2. Awesome Outcome.

Yeah, I am still stunned and waiting for the other shoe to drop. And I really hope that Obama, Japan can boost its tourist numbers.

3. Awesome evening...

... almost. We went to see the Dr. Zonk show tonight. Dr. Reg Mitchell has donned a green clown wig to introduce kids to science since 1974 but is retiring, so he agreed to do two last shows as a benefit for the United Way -- both shows sold out. Kiddo freaked out at the big bangs (balloons filled with various gas mixtures) and didn't appreciate the stink produced by the two final displays which both involved burning sugar. In between, she was selected to help by mixing some chemicals in a flask which glowed nicely in the dark -- making her a human firefly. :)

04 November 2008

Yes, this is an election-themed post.

While our sad little federal election is already a mere dust mote in the corner of our collective Canadian consciousness, the U.S. Election is everywhere today -- and I mean everywhere. You would have to turn off your web browser, television, radio and avert your eyes all day to avoid it. Here are some more interesting election-related links if you would rather not look away:

And if you're really desperate to kill time, you can just search "polling station" or "I voted" or "us election" at Flickr or your favourite search engine or surf over to CNN to see if one more viewer will down their servers.

We'll be watching tonight as the numbers start coming in, snacking on an array of appetizers as prepared by my Hubby.

02 November 2008

E is for Exhausted.


After being sick most of last week, we still took Kiddo out trick-or-treating. It was actually really nice to do a fairly quick route around the neighbourhood, meet some of our neighbours, and then sit around while Kiddo answered the door for the dozen or so trick-or-treaters who showed up here. Oh, and she looked great in her costume... as Sarah Palin.

(Yes, she chose that costume and I think she will actually be sad if the McCain-Palin ticket fails to get to the Whitehouse. Sigh.)

I also think her trick-or-treating years may be numbered; it already seemed like she wasn't interested and yet she had heaps of fun working the door and handing out candy to other kids.

Saturday we popped up to Nanaimo and got a wardrobe for the bedroom plus a nice electric lawnmower that was being cleared out at the end of the season. I still have to put together the lawnmower, but there's no rush until the rain lets up enough to dry out the lawn a little.

Today we finished putting together the wardrobe (we started last night... it's a bit of a beast even as flat-pack furniture goes, but it looks good in place) and did some shuffling downstairs. Hubby took a load of construction debris out of the basement to the dump then we cleaned and moved boxes while he framed in a closet.

Anyway, I am still tired but determined to go back to work this week, even if my mind keeps drifting to thoughts of preparation for the craft fair at Kiddo's school at the end of the month -- I've committed to a table and the organizer from the PAC was very excited to hear that I would be bringing plush toys and finger puppets.

31 October 2008

Happy Halloweeeeeeeen!

First, a fantastic snapshot from UCLA's Digital Collections:



Ahh, the 1940's... when it was still OK to send a little girl out trick-or-treating in blackface. Also, all the whining about how provocative Halloween costumes are this year? It's nothing new; check out these women posing in costume back in1947.

I'm still at home (sick) today, though really I am feeling much better. My problem is that I didn't sleep much last night so I need to take a nap or three today. Tonight, Kiddo will be trick or treating in the new neighbourhood -- seems like many of the neighbours are quite excited; lots of yard decorations among the piles of fallen leaves. My mother-in-law will be handing out candy while we shadow the kid. I will, of course, post photos later.

30 October 2008

What is it with celebrities and clowns and Halloween?


WE ALL FLOAT GEORGIE
Originally uploaded by WilWheaton
Well, this is Wil Wheaton under a lot of makeup and a ratty rainbow wig. According to his blog, he wanted to go as Doctor Horrible -- this was plan B.

Doctor Horrible was, of course, played by the awesome Neil Patrick Harris who dressed as an even more psychotic clown last year.

Yay, stairs!


hello_new_stairs
Originally uploaded by triviaqueen
So last night, despite having a nasty cold, I stood by and helped Hubby tear out the old stairs (held in by two bolts, lots of drywall screws, some silicone caulking and quarter-round and maybe an eighth-level mage spell) and put in the new stairs.

There is still lots of finishing to be done -- from the walls to the handrails to, ultimately, carpeting -- but the new stairs are sturdy and do not require one to limbo to the basement. Woo!

Now we can start clearing out the construction demolition debris, setting up the basement storage areas, moving things around, and (soon!) bringing the U-Pak contents over! After that we can start emptying the self-storage locker, some of which has been in there for over a year now. Sigh.

But, to end on a high note, our new sofa should be delivered this afternoon. Yay for seating!

25 October 2008

Zombietacular!


more_arm
Originally uploaded by triviaqueen
After working on the severed limb all week, today was the day to try it out. Kiddo captured it from a pretty good angle, showing the bone fragment bits at the base.

Kiddo went from wanting to be a zombie to not wanting to go at all to agreeing to be our official zombietographer for the day. We joined a few hundred other weird Victorians in Centennial Square and at 4:00, shuffled our way down Government street. The crowd was headed for the Legislature (an odd choice, Hubby noted, if one was searching for brains) but we ducked out early, at the Bay Centre and headed back home.

The intention was to head out again for Zombie Karaoke but Hubby is still sick and didn't want to sit around in a bar for a couple of hours feeling miserable.

23 October 2008

Identification, please.


mushrooms_again
Originally uploaded by triviaqueen
Anyone out there know how to ID mushrooms? Actually, I need to find someone local who could poke about our backyard which, on inspection, seems to be a happy home to many varieties of fungus.

This particular variety (pictured) was found growing in the shade of one of the large Douglas Firs neighbouring our property. I think they are a Russula of some sort, though the gills are more grey than any I've seen illustrated.

I would be very excited to find out if any of the varieties are edible; I'd also be happy to hear from anyone who has successfully cultivated mushrooms at home (I believe oyster mushrooms and can be grown with some success).

22 October 2008

That's a little odd....

I love Mental Floss -- it's one of my fave feeds on my Google Reader -- and one of today's pieces was some quick facts about Disney's Haunted Mansion. This one made me raise my eyebrow:

7. A Real Final Resting Place. People dump ashes in the Haunted Mansion all of the time, Which lends some real credence to those haunting stories. You can read about one such instance here. Ash dumping happens so often that Disneyland had to purchase a special HEPA vacuum that can pick up ashes, but also little tiny bone fragments that are often left behind after a cremation. If you ever hear a Haunted Mansion cast member calling for a “HEPA clean-up,” maybe you want to check out another attraction for a while and come back when the crew has tidied up a little.


I could believe one or two people doing this because it's a little odd, dark, twisted, and frankly kinda funny, but to have it happen often enough that they have a clean-up procedure? Weird. Also, maybe they should post a sign outside "No Ashes Please." Just sayin.

Our New (old) Neighbourhood.

For the entire time we have been together, hubby and I have lived inside the boundaries of the City of Victoria, despite having moved several times. Most recently, we lived in VicWest, right on the edge of the border with Esquimalt. Now we live in Hillside-Quadra, near another boundary (we are not far from the Saanich border).

We lived in this area once before -- from 1999-2001 -- right on Quadra Street, about 6 blocks from where we are now (or as one friend said "within mortar shelling range"). At that time, we were "renting to own" but it didn't work out. More annoyingly, the landlords kept our deposit and, even though we won it back through a residential tenancy hearing, they disappeared and never paid up. It's all water under the bridge now. Our time there had plenty of ups and downs but there were good memories and I didn't dislike living in the area.

That said, six blocks makes a HUGE difference. Our street gets a fair number of cars but they all seem to be residents so they aren't going terribly fast. Sirens are still audible but don't race past our front door (touch wood) and buses are nearby without stopping right outside.

There are oodles of cats in the neighbourhood (including a doppelgänger for our own cat -- so close we've actually had to double check our cat was still inside), a few dogs, lots of squirrels and birds -- especially crows. I suspect there are raccoons, too. I haven't seen deer, though they are never too far away in Victoria.

As the settling in continues, we have found the garbage collection and recycling pick-up schedules. It's hard to adjust to a single garbage can after having access to a dumpster for so long, but I set up a compost bin in the back yard and am being a recycling hard-ass in order to make sure we aren't overdoing the waste. (That said, we will have to head to the dump once we clean up after the renos... though Hubby is doing well re-using whatever is possible along the way.)

I think, once we find a sofa, I'll be able to relax -- both literally and figuratively -- but overall, I have to admit I am very happy with our change of address.

21 October 2008

This shouldn't be so difficult.

When we moved, we jettisoned our sofa and love-seat. They were a ideal dimensions and an OK colour (sort of a rusty brown shiny leather) in good condition... but we hated them. They were the furniture most likely to eat things (in fact one swallowed our cordless phone and kept it hidden for 6 months) and the seat cushions were forever sliding off. So off they went to someone who would give them a welcome home (my Mother in Law) and we set out to find a new sofa and love-seat set.

We had in mind something simple, square-ish, in brown (espresso?) leather or similar (honestly with a pet and a child and being so clumsy myself, I think I can live with "bicast" leather which really is synthetic but offers a similar look for a fraction of the price). In general, a shape something like this:



But... this has proven to be a challenge. One of the biggest issues is size -- our last sofa was 6'2" from arm to arm; most we've seen now are over 7'. How is that useful when more and more people are buying small condos? Or is it a reflection of the average North American "seat" size? Hmmm.

Anyway, in the past two weeks we have sat on a lot of sofas in a lot of stores. Some sag in the middle (crummy plywood frames), some have as much give as a concrete pad, others seem to swallow a body whole. Some have poorly placed back cushions or no support at all. Most of those that are comfortable are ridiculously expensive (and by ridiculously expensive I mean over $3,000 for a sofa; this may not be ridiculous to some readers, but I am not used to seeing price tags with numbers that high).

We've been combing second hand stores and online classifieds as well as every furniture store in the city. The closest to look and comfort we've found was at the Brick but we hate that company enough to not want to give them a nickel, even for the "right" furniture. We haven't given up yet... but we may have to give in a bit and rent some furniture for a few months because we have grown very tired of sitting in one of three largely uncomfortable chairs currently in place.

18 October 2008

Making it ours, one piece at a time.


bathroom_additions
Originally uploaded by triviaqueen
Slowly, we are transforming the new house into our home. Hubby is sick right now, so renos are slow-going, but we did make the trek to ReStore to pick up a few pieces. We found a cabinet to fit between the new wall/counter and the fridge in the kitchen ($14) and we found a medicine cabinet for the bathroom ($10). The biggest frugal find though was the towel ring. I had been looking for one but was stunned to find that they were $25-$30 new -- the second-hand ReStore towel ring was just 30 cents. Yes cents! I could have bought it with change in my pocket!

We've also been trying to find living room furniture we like that doesn't cost several thousand dollars -- I'm sure we will, but apparently we have "champagne tastes." The real challenge to find is decent media shelving -- something IKEA-like without the ferry ride to the mainland. It's tougher than you'd think. If you have a lead on good shelving or furniture stores in Victoria, I'd love to hear from you.

16 October 2008

Connect the dots, web-style

One thing I love about Flickr is the interconnectivity of it all. Back on our anniversary, Hubby and I spent some time taking photos along the waterfront on a stormy day. While at Clover Point, I captured another photographer out in the weather (I was a sissy and stayed in the van).

I posted the photo and added it to the Victoria BC Flickr group. 10 Days later, the subject of the photo identified himself! He added a tag to the photo and commented. And for the fun part, you can now look at the photos he took that day which he collected into a set called Beach.

15 October 2008

whoop-de-doo.

Well, that was as lack-lustre as elections get, frankly. The Conservatives dissolved parliament as a minority government and still come out of it a minority, albeit with a handful of extra seats. (I love the "Bigger minority" headline on the Times-Colonist today.)

The only good thing is that Dion will hopefully realize no one wanted to vote for him and he will hand the reigns of the Liberal party over to someone more ... appealing.

Locally, our three incumbents kept their seats -- Savoie handily won her Victoria seat, Lunn's win was less decisive (and there are more than a few questions about how things played out in Saanich and the Gulf Islands), and Martin's results were down to the wire (I expect a full recount for Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca).

For comparison to the 2006 election; Conservatives moved from 124 to 143 seats; Liberals from 103 to 77; the Bloc from 51 to 49; NDP from 29 to 37 and "other" from 1 to 2 but the one lone Green Party member (who was not elected as Green but crossed to the Green party shortly after being elected) was not re-elected. That's going to make life pretty hard for the Greens in the next election. [Interestingly, Wikipedia lists a slight variation for the 2008 results with one fewer Liberal and one more Bloc member.]

We have to wait a few more weeks to watch the U.S. election outcome and then we limp into the late fall Municipal elections. The City of Victoria is overrun with candidates with 8 people vying for the Mayor's seat and 35 fighting for the 8 council seats. Included in that batch are a bunch of people whom one member of Vibrant Victoria said he wouldn't "hire to serve coffee" -- the kind of candidates who give "fringe" candidates a bad name.

After November I think I will be all electioned-out.

14 October 2008

Election night puns...

(collected from those in the room, I am neither claiming nor owning up to any of these though

"Looks like the Green Party campaign went off the rails!"

"Their train didn't leave the platform!"

"I threw MY vote in the recycle bin!"

[after a candidate who withdrew due to a skinny-dipping in the presence of minors incident got over 1000 votes] "Looks like the NDP got the pedophile vote out!"

(ouch.)

If you are in Canada....

You'd best be casting your ballot today! Polls are open 7 am to 7 pm.

(I have to wait until after work, but I will definitely be putting an X next to someone's name.. and yes, it will be the Not Boomer candidate in my riding.)

10 October 2008

Real Estate Barons for a Week

So. We are now in the new house -- Home Sweet Home -- and until next Wednesday at midnight, we still own the townhouse, too. Most of the stuff we had left in the townhouse is here now (probably another two van-loads left) but of course there's the U-Pak and the self-storage, too.

The move itself was a photo finish as we waited for paperwork to be filed, money to be deposited and title to be transferred, but we finished the bulk of the move yesterday and this morning got the hot water tank replaced (with near-military precision) and the cable hooked up (the tech actually had to run a new line from the power pole across the street -- I've never, in all the years I've moved, encountered that before).

For breakfast I had an apple from one of our trees and this afternoon, Kiddo came home and within minutes was outside running around in the yard. I even went out and played catch with her for a while. Even the cat is happy now that he can look out several windows to a neighbourhood (instead of a patio and parking lot) full of birds, squirrels, other cats and everything else.

This weekend is Canadian Thanksgiving and there will be turkey to be had -- just not here -- but there is hope that we will, as pledged, be able to host Christmas in the new abode.

08 October 2008

To Quote Mr. Costanza...

"SERENITY NOW!!!"

What a crappy, crappy day. Today should have been the day we got to walk into our new house but paperwork was missing and, while it is still unclear exactly where along the route the ball was dropped, it means we won't be able to close until tomorrow. Argh. The culprit was the very critical bridge loan papers which provide the down-payment without which title can not be transferred.

After many phone-calls, emails, and some raised voices, we tracked down the paperwork and high-tailed it to the lawyer's office to sign and confirm their faxed receipt on the other end.

We also had to re-schedule the plumber and the cable company and we're going to have to buy some time with the movers tomorrow.

The stress levels in this house are very high right now; I think if things don't move swiftly tomorrow, you're likely to see us on the evening news, camped in front of whatever office is holding up the works, possibly with a moving van full of stuff.

sigh.

06 October 2008

Word of the day: anxiety

The moving van gets here Thursday morning but we still haven't officially signed everything or got a set of keys. Before we get them, I need to get a plumber into the house to assess the situation and (with any luck) get the work done before the movers get there with a truckload of belongings.

Meanwhile, I have been suffering from a nasty head cold since last Wednesday night (Kiddo's sick too) that has kept me from working (or thinking) at full speed. Of course, I do still seem to have my strength. I tried to take down the folding table we bought to stage the office but could only find one latch. I thought the hinge was "stiff" but instead I ended up bending the other latch in a perfect U-shape. Ooops.

Happily I have an organized Hubby, a loving (though also anxious) daughter, and a cat, oblivious to the pending move:


At least I don't have to work this week. Sigh.

05 October 2008

vancouver district map


vancouver district map
Originally uploaded by svacher
Wow! This is a clever map of Vancouver neighbourhoods that makes me wish I had enough time to replicate it for Victoria -- after the last few months of house-hunting, I've become pretty familiar with all the pet names for the little corners of this city.

This map was created by Stephanie Vasher who admits she lifted the idea from orkposters.com who publish a series of US city neighbourhood maps.

Props to Darren Barefoot for blogging this first.

04 October 2008

Generation Motivation

More than anything else in this season of many elections, I have been drawn toward candidates who are "not boomers" -- I've been drawn to those who are closer to my age or even younger; those who don't think or act like the Baby Boomers and the older generations who've been in power since I've been voting.

Besides, I think it would be good medicine for the City of Victoria to take some direction from someone under 30. In fact, there may be enough city council candidates in Victoria that I can vote for my own unofficial "not boomer" slate. On the federal stage, all the leaders are Boomers but many individual riding candidates are younger.

I know that there is a lot to be gained by experience -- and I'm not discounting that at all -- but that experience also tends to make people stop pushing for change, to stop questioning ("Mavericks" aside, of course) and to acquiesce to The System. Often this is either because of or in order to avoid burnout. Either way, youth has as its advantage a certain naiveté.

On the other hand, consider that many of the "not boomer" candidates are well into their 30s or early 40s ("not boomer" starts with those born after 1964) which for many is plenty of time to build relevant resumes -- JFK was only 43 when he was sworn in as President of the United States and Brian Mulroney was only 45 when he took the top office in Canada.

And before I finish ranting, let's look at Barack Obama. He's technically a boomer (born in 1961), but he sure doesn't act like one. Most of what he says rings true to GenXers like me and I don't think that's accidental.

Of course, when it comes down to it, I am not flippant enough to vote based on age alone but where all else is equal and I'm in need of a tie-breaker, I'm putting my X next to the "not boomer."

03 October 2008

The Ex List

I haven't started many new shows this year but there was really nothing else on before Numbers tonight so I am watching The Ex List. I am guessing the pitch went like this "My Name is Earl meets How I Met Your Mother -- relationship flashbacks through elimination!"

So far it's not too bad, but I'm only 15 minutes into it....

30 September 2008

Oh, Quitcherwhinin.

OK. So. BC Ferries is in a tailspin because they jacked up fares high enough that people have rethought their travel. Now, without tourists to make up the difference, the corp. is looking at cutting some runs -- more than the usual off-season thinning. This annoys me, but we can plan around it for the few trips we are likely to take.

Politicians are grasping at straws, saying that the ferries are an extension of our highway system (true, they are) and that service needs to be maintained. Keith Martin talked about the Trans-Canada highway in particular and how the ferries deliver so many people from coast to coast. Um, Keith, check your maps. The Trans Canada highway crosses the straight at Nanaimo. So, yeah, we could say that route has to be protected at full service, but I don't think the argument holds for the Southern route.

Real estate roller coaster....

All but one of the conditions have been removed on the purchase of the new house (we signed the mortgage papers today); there was a major issue found during inspection and we are hoping that the sellers will meet us half way to solve it.

In the meantime, we are extending the date for conditions to be removed for the buyer of our place to accommodate the time it takes for the bank to process the assessment (done today) but it's basically a done deal.

Soon I might just be able to sleep at night again.

27 September 2008

Funny kid...

Hubby was making breakfast this morning -- eggy grilled cheese sandwiches -- and was showing off flipping the sandwiches without the spatula (i.e. a flip of the frying pan). Unfortunately, one flip didn't quite work and Kiddo announced "Ha! You made a spilled cheese sandwich!"

:D

26 September 2008

A big part of why we are moving....


back_yard
Originally uploaded by triviaqueen
... is to get a yard. For Kiddo (primarily) but also for gardening and just hanging out.

While the inspection went about as well as one could expect for a 95 year old house -- there are a couple of things to fix before we move in and a couple of tests (just to ensure no surprises later -- like an old buried oil tank on the property) -- I am still trying to not completely fall in love with the place until all the paperwork is signed.

That said, it is difficult. I originally thought there were two apple trees and a plum tree -- turns out there are actually FIVE apple trees; two dwarf varieties and three full-size trees, all covered in fruit plus a European plum tree (likely an Italian Prune Plum).

One thing we will have to address right away is the raised beds in the front; they are right up against the house which is wood frame and as such are an open invitation for insects to munch on the house. I'm OK with that -- it will give me an opportunity to re-design the front garden. I also plan to save the beams and build raised beds for veggies in the back yard, away from the house. Yay!

Hey! I learned something!

And if you watch this little animated short from the BBC about Charles Dickens, you might learn something too!


If you want to learn more about Dickens, check out the Dickens Project at the University of California or David Perdue's Charles Dickens Page -- which includes a nice article about the illustrators with whom Dickens worked.

25 September 2008

Fall morning.


morning_light
Originally uploaded by triviaqueen
Fall is, by far, my favourite time of the year. This morning, there was a light rain but it was still warm and the sun was still determined to show up for daybreak between the clouds.

The new house is to be inspected on Friday so I will either be elated or dejected following the news. Assuming the former, and things falling into place, it looks like it was meant to be. There is room in the grade two class of the nearby traditional school (still public but the students wear uniforms and the emphasis is academic), and our short turnaround date means we qualify for a reduced mortgage rate (about 1/4 percent below the going rate otherwise).

Of course, we also feel guilty moving Kiddo this year because her teacher at her current school is fantastic. But driving back into our current neighbourhood every morning would be inconvenient to say the least. Sigh.

At least, all going well, we should be in a residential area for Halloween and ready to host the family for Christmas this year. Hooray!

23 September 2008

Holy Whirlwind!!

We accepted the counter to the counter-offer on our place this morning with the "subject-to" conditions to be lifted by Sept 29th.

In the meantime, we looked at three front-runners this evening and found one in the Quadra/Finlayson area (a.k.a. "Mayfair") that felt like a good fit -- it's also currently vacant so we put in an offer; we'll know tomorrow if they counter but our conditions -- including a full inspection -- should be lifted by October 1st.

If all goes well, we'll be moved in by (Canadian) Thanksgiving weekend!!

22 September 2008

Houston, we have an offer.

... and a counter. Now the waiting begins.

Busy, crazy weekend.

I had taken Friday off work and ended up taking the van in for repairs (most of the cost was for diagnostic work, grr) then taking oodles of grid photos.

Saturday, we tidied up and prepared to get out of the house -- apparently not soon enough as Realtors started showing up for showings at 10:30. We got everyone into the van, including the cat, and headed for Nanaimo. The goal was a return to Cyber City with a promise that we could do a round of mini-golf this time. We did, but Kiddo decided she "hates mini-golf!" so after we finished, Hubby took her for laser tag. Three minutes after going in, she decided she hated that too ("it wasn't dark enough!") so she got to climb in the kid-size habitrail until we were ready to go.

On our way back, we stopped at a Serious Coffee and checked our e-mail in case of any report about the Open House, then headed back down to Duncan. We stopped in the new super-size Wal-Mart and I am embarrassed to say I was impressed. It's one of the ones with the food floor, and we found (of all things) a giant jar of ghee -- made in Canada even -- which we've never found in Victoria. We will be getting our own giant Wal-Mart in Victoria once the construction is completed at the Douglas street location.

We returned home to find that our entrance hall closet door had been opened and closed so many times that the top hinge was broken and would no longer shut. I have patched it back together for now and we are leaving cash aside in case a buyer would prefer it be replaced.

The Realtor said the open house went very well, though, and expects our place to sell this week; we are expecting offers today. In the meantime, we are looking for somewhere to move!

We looked at one place on our shortlist that had an open house yesterday. We both instantly felt comfortable in the space, despite how much work it would take to un-fugly the place. Unfortunately, our Realtor thinks it is not worth the asking price... but we shall see.

18 September 2008

Want to buy a townhouse?

We want to move into a home with a yard, ideally nearer to where I work, so the townhouse is now for sale. Great opportunity to get into the Victoria market with three bedrooms for under $300K.

Here's the MLS Listing and our Realtor's listing page.

staged_livingroom

16 September 2008

This threatdown is getting serious....


This summer, there were many bear sightings and several bear attacks in Greater Vancouver -- heck, my brother was annoyed by a "gift" of bear sh*t on his front lawn in Port Coquitlam.

Then there was the bear with the bucket list -- Bystanders rescue man from bear (Times-Colonist 11 Sept 08) -- and the armchair sportsbear who ambled up to get a waterside seat at the dragon boat races in Kelowna (sorry, can't find an online story).

The threat is actually real enough that RCMP are now being trained to deal with bears.

But at least we haven't seen this problem here yet: a Montana cyclist collided with a bear. Ouch.

15 September 2008

linkety-links

The staging is done-diddley-un, our Realtor seemed impressed with the transformation, and I merrily took many photos this morning-- missing several buses in the process -- but still got to my desk by 8:00! Lucky for you, I have collected them into a set on Flickr called SeaTerrace:


On the awesome side of the links scale are two designs whose times have come: the modular-compartment fridge (for shared accommodation situations) and the flat sink (most useful in public washrooms).

On the opposite side of the links scale is this horrible story (warning: likely disturbing to most readers) that makes me want to track down the idiot responsible and send him to a prison that the UN has condemned. >:(

Finally, this album cover at LPCoverLover had me looking for tell-tale photoshopping signs, but it appears to be legit; sorry grrrls.

13 September 2008

And so it begins....


staged_bedroom
Originally uploaded by triviaqueen
What do you think? Does this look like one of those HGTV/TLC home makeover "after" shots? Is it generic enough without looking unlived in? (Well, the cat on the bed helps, I guess...)

So the breakdown:

We already had the sidetables, the bed, the duvet, white pillow cases, and blanket. We bought: two lamps ($99.96), sheets ($14.99), accent pillow ($10), curtains ($35.76) and art - which I wanted to do anyway - ($92). So, $252.71, plus taxes. Phew! Of course that doesn't include the cost of paint or carpet.

We should be done the rest of the staging tomorrow... hopefully. We spent most of our day today getting the deck cleared and prepared (Cthulhu is in his new temporary home -- Hubby rented a truck and toured him through town on the way; I planted $150 worth of plants...) as well as tidying things up and cleaning. The carpet, btw, was successfully installed yesterday. Hooray!

10 September 2008

Into the Home(finishing) Stretch....

As the fifteenth approaches and our time-line narrows, our activity is a flurry of ticking things off our To-Do list.

Yesterday we got the replacement for the broken window (only $78!! Thanks, Pino-Lite!) and I signed off on the proof of the print for the bedroom -- being re-done at Island Blue since it looks like pickets will be up around the SUB for some time yet.

The fences are painted (yay!) and we got a cheque yesterday reimbursing us for earlier damages. We will be using that cash to pimp our deck in the next few days. Unfortunately, one of our containers collapsed when we tried to lift it (the wood frame was very bug-eaten) but we will re-organize and rearrange to compensate.

Cthulhu will also be getting an un-subtle ride across town to a temporary location until he is sold or we move into a place where we could store him again.

Aside from the patio pimping, the last major thing to be completed before "staging" is the carpet installation, set for this Friday.

Once the place is staged, you'll get to see some before and after shots -- I promise! -- and of course, you can have a look at the listing once it's up.

08 September 2008

Chronocide Trio

Looking for a way to kill time and wake up those Monday braincells? Try these sites:

Play With Spider is an amazingly detailed little flash application: the spider will crawl along following your mouse or you can hit the space bar to drop a trail of bugs for it to eat.

De-Animator is a speedy little shoot-the-zombies game with nice simple silhouette graphics and a suitably grizzly ending. Most amusing.

And of course, my favourite little flash app of all time may well be Perpetual Bubblewrap.

06 September 2008

Mysterious visitor

We went out looking at open houses today -- saw three: one I liked, one Kiddo liked and one we all agree would take a lot of work but it is priced accordingly as a "fixer-upper."

Later, while eating dinner, we noticed a little grasshopper-type insect on some plastic cutlery. I took some photos then took it outside, letting it crawl on to my rosemary plant.

After dinner I started trying to figure out what kind of insect it was and eventually found a post on What's That Bug that convinced me it was a Drumming Katydid (Meconema thalassinum). It seems that these bugs were introduced to the Pacific Northwest very recently -- in the past 5 years. Up to then, they were commonly found on the Eastern seaboard and in Europe.

After identifying it, I went to check on him (it is the male of the species) and he was still hiding in the rosemary. One mystery does remain: how did he come to be in our dining room? My guess is that he hitchhiked on us from one of the yards we were poking around earlier.

05 September 2008

Opinions, shared because I can.

Just because no one asked doesn't mean I can't share my opinions on various newsworthy things. It's my blog and you can always skip this self-indulgent post.

Sarah Palin. The woman seriously scares me. The thought that she could potentially become president really worries me because she believes in many things -- book banning, reversing Roe v. Wade, drilling for oil in nature preserves, and so on -- that make me shiver. That said, I totally think Tina Fey should be signed up for the opener of SNL to play Palin.

Canadian Federal Election. Overall, I think it's a big waste of time and money -- at this point Stephen Harper is still going to get in, maybe even with a majority thanks to the useless [giant air-quote] leadership and opposition [close giant air-quote] shown by Stéphane Dion. That man makes me grit my teeth every time he opens his mouth -- heck, even his little smile annoys me.

The timing of the election will plop it right in the midst of municipal elections and get little airplay thanks to the American elections (see above). The only good thing that might come out of it is that Dion will be fed to the lions after decimating his party's standing in the House of Commons and the NDP may gain some serious ground in their stead. All I ask is for the networks to stop airing that damned "Harper's a stand-up guy" ad -- it is so very, very staged. [If you want to subject yourself to the ad, see "Main Street Canadians".]

Municipal Elections. Since we will likely still be in the City of Victoria when the election rolls around, that's the race we've been following. Unfortunately it's not so much a race as a milling about at the edges right now. So far, it looks like I will likely be throwing my vote at Simon Natrass in the mayoral race. It's unlikely that he will win against Dean "sound-bite king" Fortin but, as you can guess, there's NO way I'm giving Fortin my vote.

Things that quietly slip away. Two major changes lately went by barely noticed: A&B Sound quietly closed their last Island store this week -- the one in Langford. I used to love shopping there and it makes me a little melancholy. The other change really pissess me off: CityTV in Vancouver somehow thought it made sense to fire possibly the best morning team ever -- Dave Gerry and Simi Sara -- then buried any news about it. Here's hoping A's new morning show sucks less than the current mess at BT.