30 July 2008

A day out

Originally uploaded by triviaqueen
Spent the day out and about. This morning, took Dad and Kiddo out to Sally Ann (found a TON of stuff, much of it half off, so I spent under $20) then lunch (Kelsey's) and grocery shopping.

After returning Dad to his place, Kiddo and I went out to Swan Lake, despite the cloudy skies. As you can see in the photo, the clouds did part somewhat and we mostly avoided rain. I think today may have been the first time I have actually walked across the lake on the floating boardwalk -- generally that thing freaks me out. However, it was interesting to watch the swallows flying low over the algae-covered surface to feed on mosquitoes. Other than the swallows and a few ducks, we saw a hummingbird and a garter snake, but not much else. Still, it was nice to wander around along the trails.

Tonight, I plan to make use of some of the craft supplies I bought at Sally Ann... I feel the need to create something... maybe cards...

29 July 2008

Little Amusements

Today, I got this message in my email box:

[Flickr] You are Barack Obama's newest contact!

Tee hee. I love that the Obama campaign has a Flickr account (of course they've also been using Twitter and Facebook and every other Web 2.0 widget to great effect -- just go to BarackObama.com and check out "Obama Everywhere" in the lower right column for all the links).

Now that Hubby is approaching the finish line for his Cthulhu sculpture, I have suggested that his next undertaking resemble something like this zombie sculpture -- Kiddo said we need to have one on the front lawn to "scare off riff-raff" (yes, she did use those words exactly). She also said we would need a gravestone to go with the zombie.


And, finally, if you haven't already seen it, take a look at the (almost) finished version of the stop-motion animation that Hubby and Kiddo made the week before our road trip:

28 July 2008

Disappearing artifacts

Originally uploaded by triviaqueen
Hotel room keys like this one are a rarity these days. It's been years since I'd stayed in any room that didn't have a magnetic card; for Kiddo, it was a novelty. The same hotel had paper-wrapped glassware and a bottle opener mounted on the bathroom wall -- I was surprised that the toilet seat wasn't wrapped in a paper sash that read "Sanitized for your protection." It wasn't completely lost in time though, there was a decent television (with HBO!) and a small fridge and microwave.

Spare a tip, recipe or rant?

Hubby has put out a call for content for three of his projects -- two blogs and one game that is also a Facebook application.

26 July 2008

Worth another visit

Originally uploaded by triviaqueen
This is the view looking east from the beach at Rebecca Spit Marine Park on Quadra Island. I think, of all the places we visited, this was my favourite. The beach was full of shellfish -- oysters, clams and scallops -- but even though hubby has a current shellfish license, we couldn't gather any thanks to a Red Tide closure. Sigh.

Trip Highlights

By the numbers:

In the 6 days we were "on the road" we visited 11 communities: Mill Bay, Parksville, Courtenay, Cambell River, Sayward, Port McNeill, Port Alice, Port Hardy, Woss, Quadra Island, and Nanaimo. We stayed in1 campground (in Parksville) and 4 hotels (in Courtenay, Campbell River (2 different hotels) and Port McNeill (2 nights)). We did end up taking 2 ferry rides (round trip to and from Quadra Island) and drove about 1050 kilometres (650 miles) -- though Hubby did the bulk of the driving; I drove about 150 kilometres (95 miles) of the return trip, roughly from Courtenay to Duncan.

Surprises and disappointments:

I was surprised by Sayward. It was a little detour we took to break the distance from Campbell River to Port McNeill and it was lovely. There was a public campground in the centre of town -- only $10 a night! -- and the houses looked well-cared for. We also had a great lunch at the Cable Cookhouse Cafe.

I was disappointed by Port Alice. Yes, the waterfront was beautiful, but getting there was really challenging. The road (Highway 30) was hilly and winding, plus it was being repaired so there were construction delays. But when we got there, something about the town felt odd. I think because a lot of the homes were strata townhouses, the "playgrounds" were run down (a couple of rusted swing-sets was all we could find), and there was graffiti in a town of 800, it just felt like a few square blocks of the Burnside-Gorge area had been transplanted there.

However, I was pleasantly surprised by both Port Hardy and Port McNeill. Port Hardy is home to about 5200 people; Port McNeill, to about 3,000. The only thing that freaked me out a little about Port McNeill were the many signs denoting the Tsunami Evacuation Route. Still, I could probably live there quite happily.

Campbell River felt comfortable to me but Hubby didn't like it. On the other hand, Courtenay felt uncomfortable this time around -- when we visited both places about 8 years ago, my opinions were reversed. The exception to this was the Courtenay Museum and Palaeontology Centre which was a welcome detour.

We also detoured to Quadra Island on a whim -- it's a 10 minute ferry ride from downtown Campbell River -- and I wish we had planned a longer stay. I actually do want to go back; there is a campground adjacent to Rebecca Spit Marine Park where you can camp right along the water, looking out into the bay.

Overall, it was a very nice trip and I was happy to have seen that much more of our island.

25 July 2008

A crappy welcome home.

Originally uploaded by triviaqueen

I'm not going to say much, but when we arrived home from our vacation today, we found that someone (presumably on direction from our strata management company though without our knowledge or consent) had entered our patio and "moved" items away from the fencing. In the process, our property, notably our container gardens -- including many food plants -- were irreparably damaged.

This pretty much erased all the relaxation we gained from the trip. Needless to say we are seeking remuneration for the damages.

If there is one positive outcome it is that all of us are now that much more committed to getting out of this strata situation as soon as possible.

23 July 2008

Mountains, trees, water and wildlife

Originally uploaded by triviaqueen
The North Island is very picturesque and full of friendly people (it would take us some time to adjust..). We arrived yesterday, spending the day in Port McNeill... in a hotel that seems an oddity in a lumber town -- it's made of cinderblock.

Today we drove into Port Alice and had a picnic lunch there. After lunch, we turned left at the highway, taking us even further north, to the end of Highway 19 in Port Hardy.

On the way back to Port McNeill, we saw, at the side of the highway, a black bear and two cubs. Actually, I had expected to see more wildlife, but aside from some sea-stars and other sea creatures and a lot of birds, the bears were it.

Tomorrow, we head back South; we'll be home again Friday night. I've posted more photos on Flickr if you want to see more details.

21 July 2008

Live, from Best Western!

Originally uploaded by triviaqueen
The Westerly Hotel in Courtenay seems like it was built in several stages without the use of a single blueprint. As a result, to get to our room on the second floor, we took an elevator, then went up a few stairs, down a hallway, then down a few stairs. Sigh.

Still, being in a room with wireless access, our own bathroom (and shower!) and two beds beats the heck out of the crowded though quiet campground where we "slept" more-or-less on the ground in Parksville. The campground was right across the street from a Panago Pizza -- guess what we had for dinner?

Of course, the beach at Parksville is one of the most amazing I've been to -- it's very shallow and you can walk for a long way before the water is over your knees. What I hadn't seen before was the public park adjacent to the beach; there is a decent water play area and climbing and playground equipment from every era for the past 50 years. As Kiddo put it, "This place is a kid's best dream!"

Also, not being able to sleep on the hard ground meant I was up at 6 a.m., watching the sunrise on the beach before settling in to reading for an hour or so when the others started to rise.

Rose a little later this morning and after some coffee and breakfast we'll be heading out to the Courtenay Museum before making our way to the next stop up the highway.

18 July 2008

ZOMG! Christopher Nolan is my hero, for real!

Seriously. The Dark Knight kicked every other movie's backside around several blocks.

We saw the 3:30 showing and when we came out, the line to go in to the 7:00 (and later) showings was all the way around the theatre -- an honest-to-god blockbuster; something I haven't seen in a very, very long time (in fact, I think the last time I saw that happen was for the godforsaken metachlorian-riddled Episode One). The difference this time, is that the people in line today will not be disappointed.


As amazing as Heath Ledger's performance is (oh, yeah, you can believe that hype) -- and his is not the only buzz-worthy performance -- but Nolan's script is the unseen star. Nolan really understands how to instill fear in an audience. I don't want to build it up too much, but it was certainly the best movie I have seen in a while (the only other movie that comes close -- and it is in a different league -- is In Bruges which actually did the impossible: it made me appreciate Colin Farrell as an actor).

Go see it, then come back and comment -- I'd love to know what you think.

17 July 2008


Saturday we will set off for a week's vacation -- no ferries, no airports, no borders to cross, just a whole lot of Island exploring.

While there were a number of reasons we chose to do this trip this year, I feel really good about keeping our tourism dollars on the Island. Many of the places we will be visiting are mill-towns that are gradually losing their mills. News stories are full of woes from the tourism industry in BC, finding it difficult to attract American tourists (usually the region's mainstay) in the current climate of economic uncertainty and with the hassles of crossing even our "friendly" border.

At any rate, we are going to be spending a fair bit of cash on food, gas, and lodging over the next week. Our route will take us up to the top of Vancouver Island, staying in Parksville, Courtenay, Campbell River, and Port McNeill but also visiting Comox, Port Alice, Port Hardy, Nanaimo, and anywhere else we choose to stop the van.

We are taking the EEE and should have some opportunities for web-access along the way, so I will likely blog en route or at least upload photos to Flickr.

Ending on a positive note

Put in my last day of work for a while -- I'm off for just over two weeks -- and ended on a really positive note. The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club, serial edition from 1836-37 has been digitized and posted on one of our databases at work; the collection is visible globally, though -- feel free to have a peek if you are interested (it still needs an entry page, but the content is there).

Some of the most amusing pages (to me) are the advertisements inside the covers and (in later issues) surrounding the text, though the prices might as well be in ancient Hebrew because I cannot for the life of me work out the price of anything that involves a shilling.

All the stakeholders seem to be pleased with the results including the professor who had requested that it be made available for a class she is teaching in the fall. Due to the time constraints of mounting it before September, we did not run the text through the OCR software; given enough time, that would be my preference for almost every project.

Our next priority (on my return) will be to work through several shelves of theses and upload them to our digital repository. OK, enough about work, I'm on vacation!

16 July 2008

A capital G Good Day.

Originally uploaded by triviaqueen
After a seriously crummy lack of sleep Monday night, I slept well and woke up rested. I got a seat to myself through both bus rides to work and didn't have to wait long to transfer. On campus, the bunnies were extra cute, but what was most amazing was a patch of grass outside the SUB that was sparkling with dew that was catching the sunlight. I couldn't quite capture the real beauty of it, but you can sort of see it in the top of this shot.

Work was also good -- we finished one project and figured out how to fix another. I was worried that I wouldn't get enough done by the end of my week, but now it looks much rosier with those off my plate.

After work it was off to dinner at my Mother-in-Law's followed by ice cream at the Beacon Hill Drive-In (mmmMMmmm!).

14 July 2008


This video is wonderful on several levels. Found via BoingBoing and well worth seeing (more than once):

It was created by searching Google for "my biggest regret" and using some of those words to illustrate the artist's song.

13 July 2008

Plush Mammoth

This just plain makes me smile.

12 July 2008

Garden of Senses!

Well, it was not perfect, but I was still pleased with the finished product and I now know what I would do different with future cloth books. For starters, I would actually measure and mark the base fabric, har-har.

My only real regret is that I finished sewing it just a few minutes before we had to leave for the party (actually about 4:55 but Hubby was working on Cthulhu, so we were still 15 minutes from leaving) so I didn't have time to really appreciate it, or show it around as much as I normally would.

I took a bunch of photos though, and I made a Flickr set for Garden of Senses, but here's a peek at the finished inside of the book:


The birthday girl was a bit too overwhelmed, but the bee on the "ears hear" page got a smile, so I figure it will be a hit.

Counting down

One busy weekend and four work days until vacation starts -- WOO!

Today, job #1 is "finish The Garden of Senses" (see last post for details) but we're also going out for dim sum this morning, so that will take some time out of my day before the barbeque get-together this afternoon where I hope to presenting the book.

Tomorrow, Kiddo gets to be a test subject for a psychological study at the University. Basically she will be in a control group as the study aims to develop aids for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Asperger Syndrome in the area of face recognition. However, the research team has cleverly designed a whole day of activities in between the testing and re-branded it as "Face Camp." I actually signed her up before getting her buy in, but "free pizza" and "t-shirt" was pretty much all it took to get that. I think she'll have a great time.

While she's doing that, I plan to use the time for research. I'll take the EEE with me this time (much easier to carry than my laptop) -- though really, the smartest thing I did was to take my camera to photograph the microfilm images on the viewer rather than create a lot of paper waste and spend a lot of money on blurry print copies.

Next week at work, it's full speed ahead with digitization -- trying to finish off one project while we go all out to push through another. The one we are finishing off is mounting the original serialized version of Charles Dickens' Pickwick Papers. The project we need to get through is digitizing and posting about 450 theses and dissertations from the past two years. Needless to say, my role in that will be more of coordinating the work than hands-on. I have been re-thinking the workflow to allow for better sharing of the workload.

Friday will be spent madly running about packing and prepping for our week-long road trip up to the top of Vancouver Island. I am looking forward to a vacation that involves no ferry or air travel and lots of rugged West Coast forests and beaches.

09 July 2008

A crafty experiment...

Originally uploaded by triviaqueen
I finally found something to inspire me ... I have been in a creative funk for a while, so when the muse/voices in my head started whispering "what about a cloth book?" I started sketching. Before I went to bed last night, I had a plan and several of the pieces cut out.

Tonight, I finished most of the embroidered details and the title on the cover (seen here with my hand to show the scale). Still to do: stitching the wording on the pages inside, stitching the felt images to the pages, adding quilt batting and building the book!

The plan is to give this to a friend's daughter who is celebrating birthday number two with a party this Saturday.... here's hoping I can get this finished by then!

07 July 2008

Baking experiment

I was short one banana to make my favourite banana bread recipe, so I improvised, replacing one banana with a cup of pineapple chunks and substituting shredded coconut for walnuts. Overall, I was pleased with the result though I think next time some dried papaya would really finish it.


Tropical Loaf Cake:

(A) Preheat oven to 350°, grease loaf pan
(B) Blend 2 ripe bananas, 1 cup pineapple chunks and 2 eggs in food processor.
(C) Add ¾ c sugar, 5 tbsp butter, blend well.
(D) Add remaining ingredients: 1 ½ c flour, 1 tsp baking soda, 1 tsp cream of tartar, ½ tsp salt, 1/3 cup shredded coconut.
(E) Pour batter into loaf pan and bake approx 50 min.

"No, Mister Bond, I expect you to die."


Of the many scenarios Kiddo creates daily, one caught my eye. She said it was a tanning bed with an artificial light. I said, "Oh, I thought it was some sort of James Bond laser thingy."

As soon as I put the idea in her head, Kiddo scuttered off and immediately rearranged the scene, finding a Bond-like minifig and pointing the laser at his chest.

(I would say it was racial memory, but I didn't seeGoldfinger until she was 6 years old.)

As you can imagine, I thought this was several layers of wonderful.

Spam Silliness

One of my tasks as head of our union communication committee is to clear the spam from the mailing list. I don't mind, because I get to see whatever the latest subject lines are and how they are trying to get around spam filters.

I thought I had found a new fave this morning:

Ensure your potence and make love everywhere (everywhere? but wouldn't that get you thrown in jail?)

But that was only the third one down the list. Further along, they just got better and better:

15 Ways to act Longer in bed! (does that mean faking it for more than 10 minutes, or just pretending to be longer...?)
Stars and Strips forever (there were lots of references to 4th of July and fireworks, nudge-nudge, wink-wink, say no more....)

And the winner is:

We have everything to cure your masculinity. (really? there's a cure for that?)

06 July 2008

Closer to ready....

Despite yesterday's lackluster open houses (yes, the market has relaxed a little, but there's still not quite what we want in the price range we can comfortably afford), we moved ahead this weekend on some of the finer details we need to finish off before we list our place for sale.

Hubby tackled the transitional rails around the edges of our laminate flooring (e.g. wherever the laminate meets another type of flooring or doorway). This was hard work, involving a lot of drilling into concrete. (Thanks, Hubby).

Meanwhile, Kiddo helped me peel off the silicone sealant from the tub surround -- when Hubby did this during our bathroom reno earlier this year he was already suffering from though not yet diagnosed with pneumonia, so while the seal was sound, it wasn't pretty. After much scraping and scrubbing, we prepped the surround for the new seal. I applied it this afternoon, cursing surprisingly little since I used a tip I found online somewhere: apply soft soap to your finger so that the silicone doesn't stick to your skin when smoothing the bead. I also read the info on the tube which suggested masking both sides of the seam -- good plan!


We also splurged on a new appliance this weekend -- a much dreamed-of compact, portable dishwasher. This meant that I spent about an hour last night re-arranging the kitchen so that we had room to store the dishwasher during the hours it won't be used.


But let me tell you, we are so looking forward to loading that sucker after our next round of entertaining.

05 July 2008


Notice anything different? Well, unless you are reading the feed and not visiting my page, you should. I upgraded to Blogger's newer template today and changed the background image to my button stash (the intersection of craft and clutter seemed appropriate)

I changed a few other things, too, but most amusing to me are the slideshow of my Flickr photos at the top of the left sidebar and the link to some of my and hubby's YouTube videos at the foot of the page. If something is missing that you think needs to be added, let me know!

Oh, one other thing, I added a link to all the places you can buy my creations in the sidebar and I have decided that if you email me and say, "Hey, I just ordered [this product] from [website selling that product] and I read about it on Flotsam and Jetsam," I will send you a free gift!

01 July 2008

Happy Canada Day

Happy Canada Day
Originally uploaded by triviaqueen
Happy 141st birthday, Canada.

Eat, drink and be 39.

Originally uploaded by triviaqueen
Last night, I celebrated my birthday rather quietly. I went to a meeting of the Victoria Grid Project, to select the next grid (J33 which includes Cook Street Village and most of Beacon Hill Park) where I was treated to Belgian chocolate cheesecake (mmmmm) after dinner. Following that, Hubby and I wandered off to Smith's pub, where this photo was taken. We chatted quietly for a while, then detoured to Mocha House for a late night coffee before returning home.