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?

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!

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


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.

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.

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


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!"


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...


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.


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....