31 May 2009

Anti-Vegas Vacation

I am composing this post from a cabin in the forest at one of the many resorts along the beaches in Parksville BC. We've been here two nights though it seems like it has been a much longer vacation; it's been very relaxing.

Even though Kiddo arrived with a migraine (sleeping most of the way here), she proclaimed this the Best Trip Ever. Clearly, we all prefer this type of get-away -- forest, open space, beach-optional, time to play and no real schedule. It's sort of a middle ground between city get away and camping get away -- the cottage is nice because we are self-contained and in the midst of a Douglas fir forest but we are still only five minutes from coffee houses and supermarkets and there is cable tv, too.

Until today, I had been avoiding the computer -- I didn't bring mine and didn't want to impose on Hubby -- although I did play hours of Bookworm on my iPod. I took a bunch of photos (which I'll be downloading and editing this evening) and did a little writing (I should have done more) but mostly just relaxed.

22 May 2009

Is it opposite day?

I left work early with a headache today, came home, had a nap then with Kiddo in tow we went to the city pound.

After last week's disappointing experience at the SPCA, I was bracing myself for similar at the pound. In fact, it was absolutely the opposite. The staff member was very happy to see us, personally introduced us to each of the cats available for adoption and then told us about the kittens. She did tell us which cats would be best to avoid (alas the very pretty white one was also somewhat of a crazy hide-in-the-corner type) for us once she learned we had another cat and a child but with a completely neutral attitude that assumed we would know best. It helps, probably that they have policy that you can bring the pet back if it doesn't work out within the first two weeks.

I had already looked on the web, so I had an idea of what pets were available (but I expected the kittens to be adopted pretty quickly). In fact, the one we had seen online was still available. We filled out an application, were approved right away, and we signed all the papers (and paid all the fees).

Meet Minnie:

Meet Minnie

a.k.a. Min or Minimum -- the counter to our current cat Max, whom we also call Maximum. Why, yes, we are dorks. She was happy to be handled and very sweet but oddly camera-shy (I'll soon change that). She is still a bit young to come home; we should be able to pick her up Tuesday or Wednesday next week then she will go back on the 9th for a little nip and tuck and the first of her shots.

Before then, we have some kitten proofing to consider... even tougher than baby proofing because babies don't jump. Wish us luck.

19 May 2009

Some accomplishments

I just realized I don't think I have blogged about the one thing I've been most proud of, work-wise this month -- scanning and promoting an 1897 map of Victoria for cyclists. I saw the map come through cataloguing and knew right away that it was both a good fit for an existing digital collection and also perfectly timed to coordinate with Bike to Work Week. I asked my manager who said "Sure!" then scanned it in four pieces and stitched them together digitally. Next I coordinated with other members of the digitization team to get the metadata and "Zoomify" functionality, mounted it and talked to the Reference staff and our communications officer about promoting it.

The Reference staff asked me for a write-up which I provided; the communications officer asked for suggestions of where to promote it and off it went. The write-up was posted last Monday in the Featured Resources blog and on the front page of the Libraries website; late in the week the Times Colonist ran a story. It's been very satisfying.


On the home front, the garden work seems to be paying off -- we have lots of potatoes, the radishes have started to sprout, the bok choy is growing well, and the onion sprouts are a few inches tall. Looking at the plum tree tonight, I was disappointed by the amount of insect damage but pleased to see lots of proto-plums growing. There should be a decent yield. I'm not sure the apples will do as well; I have excised several large tent caterpillar colonies but they've already done considerable damage. Fingers crossed.

16 May 2009

We just wanted a cat...

Ever since we moved in, we've been discussing the idea of getting another cat -- a younger cat to keep Max company.

Photo by MendocinoAnimalCareSo on Friday, we visited the local SPCA where we found a couple of cats that appealed to one or the other of us and we went to the desk to ask about taking the cats out of their cages. The staffer at that point spent 10 minutes talking us out of those cats and suggesting others. Fine, we took that under advisement and went back to look at other cats.

One I liked seemed to hate Hubby -- hissing and batting at him; one he liked hissed and yowled when I approached. So we looked at slightly older cats and found another couple of potential pets. Again, the staffer talked us out of them, spending so much time talking us out of taking -- well, pretty much any of the cats, that we ran right up against closing time for viewing.

I understand that the staff probably have a good idea of each pet's temperament -- and this was not the first time we had selected a shelter animal -- but she seemed overly concerned with the fact that we had another cat and a child. We knew going in that there was every chance that the visit would not result in our getting a cat but we never expected to be so dissuaded. It was very disappointing.

On our way out, we did take a peek in the small animals area -- two chinchillas, a rat, a couple of guinea pigs and a LOT of rabbits. I wonder if they would have talked us out of those too?

[photo by MendocinoAnimalCare]

13 May 2009

Five Years of Flotsam

Today marks a milestone of sorts, 5 years since I first posted on this blog. 5 years of rants, raves, family life, felines, projects, crafts, peculiar things, and everything else. Surprisingly few redesigns (maybe 3?) and only one (the most recent) that was significant.

People often ask me why I blog. They say, "I could never do that. Why do you put so much out there?" I usually shrug and say something along the line about always having kept a journal... then trail off. There is certainly something therapeutic in it for me but the most surprising thing to me is how useful it has been as a documentary of sorts.

I have found (and Hubby and I have discussed this) that roughly since Kiddo was born, time and our lives seem to have become "compressed." An example of this recently was the airing of The Last King of Scotland on a third-rung cable channel. I said to Hubby, "wasn't that just up for an Oscar?" Turns out it was -- in 2007. So this blog helps me keep track of things that otherwise might blur into the compression of the last 8 years. I only wish I'd been blogging longer.

11 May 2009

Little creatures with great power

This video is one of 10 shortlisted as part of NFB/Cannes ShortFilmCorner...

It reminds me a lot (in tone and texture) of 9....

...an Oscar® nominated short film that Tim Burton is making into a feature film to be released on 09/09/09. Clever.

10 May 2009

Mothers Day Weekend

Love this card from Kiddo, it says "Dear Mom, I think you are the best of the bunch. Happy Mother's Day!!!" Attached to the card (a watering can shape maybe?) is a package of nasturtium seeds which Kiddo has been talking about non-stop.

She also gave me a huge bouquet of roses and a little 12 inch tall paper version of me as a "computer buddy."

Today, ten of us went out for Mother's Day brunch -- ended up at Ric's which was not a buffet but did have a decent brunch menu.

The weekend also included some photo/wandering time, a trip to Costco, seeing the new Star Trek movie, and a lot of time spent updating my iTunes/iPod.

08 May 2009

Art of Nicholas Galanin

I can't resist art made with books -- maybe because I have to discard so many. This piece appeals to me on many levels. It uses books (which of course come from trees), it uses Tlingit carving motifs, and the book in question is the Bible. I think it's amazing and I am stunned that it escaped me until now -- this piece was shown in 2006 as part of an exhibit called "What Have We Become"

Galanin's current work is for an exhibit called "The Imaginary Indian" an equally interesting look at the way cultures can be collected, absorbed, and obscured. The pieces each feature Tlingit motifs covered in Victorian wallpaper. The artists statement however, shows yet another side,

The Tlingit art form continues to evolve though purists resist. This conservative shift has left a modern skeletal ruin of ghost like objects which hang on gallery and collection walls, most of which mimic a romantic cultural lifestyle, while shunning current cultural growth. Though this transformation is not entirety negative, it tends to suffocate progress, something needed for cultural survival.

This reminds me of Brian Jungen's sculpted "masks" made from deconstructed and reconstructed Nike shoes. Brilliant, thought-provoking, and something I would love to have in my home.

06 May 2009

Interesting week

... and it's not over yet.

So far I have attended a bunch of meetings --including some last minute scheduled meetings -- a Norman Foote performance with Kiddo, and an impromptu preview Webinar for tomorrow's free Flash Basics course. I've also done some historical sleuthing (to determine the age of a map I'd scanned) -- I had to admit it was fun wearing my History hat, even for a brief period -- updated websites a-plenty, and tilted at a few windmills.

Tomorrow, I have the Flash course plus two trucks full of books to deal with. Also, at some point, I have to address the mountain of paper on my desk. Seriously, I think it ate my coffee mug. I have to clear my desk so that I can prepare to relocate -- the dominoes are finally starting to fall and it looks like by sometime in late May/early June I will have a slightly different viewpoint when I stand to look over the cubicle walls.

Outside of work, the weather has been super-random -- lots of wind and rain, so I had Hubby pick me and the bike up on Tuesday and I took the bus today. Of course, taking the bus is now the annoying option because to get to work by 8 I have to leave the house at 7:10 -- if I bike, I leave at 7:25; if I drive, 7:35 (but that cuts it close). So as long as it isn't too beastly in the morning I'll be back on the bike.

03 May 2009

Food in the city

Tonight, I made dinner. I felt the need to make up for my last attempt at dinner when I saw something on the internet and thought it would be fun -- stupid internet. So tonight, I made a nice Greek-style chicken, rice, dilled carrots and a cucumber and tomato salad with tzatziki.

I've been thinking a lot about food this weekend. Aside from the garden always being on my mind, yesterday I spent quite a bit of time working on rebuilding my restaurant guide (for the newer review style see Don Mee, Bard & Banker and Floyds 2). Thinking about meals past and future made me quite hungry. When I went back to it today, I stumbled across a couple of food blogs I had no idea existed: the Victoria Buffet Blog and the Victoria Burger Blog. Locally, there is also The Little Piggy reviews -- I know about them but I tend not to check them too often as I find they come at the reviews from a much different perspective. Surfing further, I got sucked into the forums at Vibrant Victoria so I got little else done this evening.

Earlier in the day was also food-centric; this afternoon we watched The Future of Food -- nice because it helped us explain to Kiddo why the backyard garden is so important to us, beyond thestandard eco-speak she gets fed by media and through the curriculum. Of course, it also scares the hell out of me -- especially as I have relatives farming Monsanto grains. The most startling fact presented is that roughly 97% of all the varieties of seeds grown at the start of the 20th century are now extinct. Even allowing for a survival of the fittest mindset, assuming that some varieties wouldn't be suitable for North American climates, or that some varieties would essentially become invasive weed species, 97% is a lot to lose. As I said to Kiddo this afternoon, it's why I am planting some heritage varieties of seeds. I suspect Kiddo will be spreading that fact to her friends tomorrow -- I probably should check if it's accurate.

02 May 2009

Of cabbages and kings

(Well not really but that was quoted on the wall by our booth at Floyd's 2 where we had lunch today.)

First, since I know you are all on the edge of your seats -- I did bike to work and back on Thursday and again on Friday. Thursday took me exactly 30 minutes from my back door to the bike racks outside the library; home took about 25 minutes because more of the trip is downhill. On Friday the trip in took about 27 minutes and back about 25 again. So it's safe to say that I need to allow at least half an hour each way. Yay! Bike to Work Week is on approach so I will try to keep cycling through the next two weeks and see where I am at after that.

Even though I was exhausted, I did get outside to plant the strawberries and water all the garden areas last night, but that was about the extent of my activity. Oh, except I did also take a bunch of photos -- not that it takes a lot of energy to take photos :)


Today, we slept in somewhat, then went out in search of garage sales -- the first two were non-sales and one was just a bunch of toddler toys. Actually, there were tons of toys and baby things for sale today but we didn't come home empty-handed. We got some little folding stool/table things for the living room, two deck chairs, and a little planter set for outside, a few other little things, and Hubby found another ornament to zombie-up.

Today was also the first full day of the Moss Street Market for 2009, so we went and got some seedlings, some fresh, tiny donuts, plus some veggies and focaccia bread. As if that weren't enough, it is also Free Comic Book Day so we stopped downtown where there are three stores in one block. Between the three of us and the three stores we got a fair haul:


Now we are home where I am about to tackle some movie reviews and other web updates.