Saturday, September 6, 2014

When is doing the right thing, NOT the right thing?

It's Saturday night as I write this post and I'm sitting on eggshells wondering what the fate is going to be of a stray cat I took in over a week and a half ago.

Let's start at the beginning. I have love cats, and as a childless woman who loves cats, they generally seek me out, knowing that a sweet face and a soft purr is my kryptonite. The neighbourhood children know I love animals - in fact, it often feels like when there is one of unknown origin found that it is brought in my direction. Oddly, that statement is almost true of both stray children and stray animals...

About three weeks ago, I started seeing this particular cat, let's call him Sir Purr-cival or Percy for short. Don't judge. One of the 637 reasons I don't have children is because the idea of naming a cat is difficult enough, let alone a person. Moving on. Percy is extremely well mannered, to a fault even - the neighbourhood kids were literally almost playing with him to death combined with taking him from one another claiming "He's mine! No he's mine!" He didn't belong to any of them of course.

So on Friday August 22th, I scooped him from the clutches of some of them because I had a vet coming over to see my other cat and I wanted to know if it was a girl or a boy - I've never been very good at getting all up in anyone's private parts to check what bits they have - and Percy (Congratlations! It's a boy!) is a long haired fellow which made his little fuzzy balls harder to spot.

I then sent him back out into the world because at that point there was my cat and two cats belonging to my roommate in the house and it just didn't seem practical to keep him as of that moment. That moment came Tuesday night (August 26th) though, despite the other cats. Percy had been full of burrs and mats every time I saw him - I had cut a few out Friday before the vet arrived - but as of Tuesday he was seeming skinnier than usual and still didn't have the rest of the burrs and clumps of fur removed, if anything, he had more. I also heard a story of some of the "No he's mine!" children killing a neighbours hamster - I couldn't let him stay outside.

I will condense this next part of the story.
I called in a found report to the Humane Society and put up notices on the two main "Lost cat" sites on facebook. I checked kijiji to see if anyone had posted an ad. I looked for posters. I decided against doing the last two things myself for a few reasons, one of which being the last time I did that it had very mixed results. Buy me a drink and I'll sit down and tell you that story....

Moving on.

I made arrangements to get him neutered, through a program for North End folks - if nothing else this guy wasn't going to be making more unwanted kittens in this world. So last Wednesday I took him in. I also made arrangement to have a broken canine tooth removed and to have him tested for FIV and FLV since he was residing inside with my cat while the 14 day hold period from the Humane Society was in place (my roommate moved to Toronto for grad school with her two cats during this whole endeavour).

Fast forward to yesterday. I'm now into this cat for $170*, beside the neuter, tooth extraction and blood test, turns out he had a severe case of fleas and earmites (I've never had a cat with fleas, I just thought his coat was full of dirt - I'll know for next time!). I get a call from the Humane Society - there is a possible match!

Turns out these people reported him missing on August 25th, and it took the WHS a total of ELEVEN days to make the connection that I might have their missing cat (ok, to be fair, 9 days since I made MY report, but when I made my report they already had a report of a missing cat fitting the description). So I called the number that the WHS gave me. Turns out its a social worker. The people don't have a phone.

Let me preface my next statement by saying that I have no problem with homeless or impoverished people owning pets - IF they're looking after them; it's a common statement that the pets of homeless often eat better than their owners. That folks, is what love of your pet means.

So back to my case. These people can't afford a phone. They have a filthy cat with fleas, a broken tooth that they haven't bothered to neuter (again, there is a program available to have it done for little to no cost for low income pet owners) that they let roam the neighbourhood. I should mention that when I brought him in and started feeding him proper food his digestive system literally EXPLODED with excitement (Note: Bounty, if you ever need an idea for a commercial, let me tell you, blue liquid doesn't hold a candle to cat diarrhea).

I let the social worker know that I would be interested in keeping the cat, or if for some reason I couldn't, ensuring that he got a proper home (who am I kidding, I'm a single woman who now only has one cat, I'll probably keep him). She said she would find out and get back to me after the weekend.

So here I sit. Percy is curled up in a ball at my side and I am heartbroken at the thought that I might have to give him back to a horrible home that clearly can't look after him. Had I brought him directly to the WHS he would have been put up for adoption after 4 days** - which based on their slow matching skills, seems the likely outcome.

I don't claim to be a perfect pet owner but this is not a case of a beloved pet that escaped and got into rough shape after weeks or months out on his own - this is a neglected cat in terms of fundamental needs (he does have a nice personality so he likely was not abused in more "traditional" ways).  The owners do get one teeny tiny checkmark in that yes, they did report him missing, however the column that houses the did they also go door to door, put up posters, put up a kijiji ad, post to facebook groups etc. has a lot of empty check boxes.

So, thanks for reading my fellow animal lovers - now what do I do if they want him back?

*Yes, it would be nice to get the $170 back, but if that guy can have a kickstarter for potato salad, maybe the world will reimburse me for my good deed? In any case, it was the right thing to do for Percy.

**I could be wrong on the 4 days, but I have it in my head that's what it is?

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Do you know this woman?

*Update: August 28th - she has been found!*

I am terrible with technology and I couldn't seem to figure out how to send this as a far more simple tweet, so here you are world, let's find this woman and get her her pictures back!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Take a hike! (Ok, a walk, a guided walk...)

Last fall I was lucky enough to get to go on one of the mural tours offered by the West End Biz. If you haven't been and you are looking for something unique to do in Winnipeg, this could be it. It's doubly great because while interesting for an out-of-towner, it's also really interesting for locals - no complaining that "there's nothing to do"!! The tours are also only $5 for adults and $2 for kids, so it falls under cheap things to do as well. If you're not from Winnipeg, know that being cheap or free often is a deciding factor for a Winnipegger.

Let's get the contact stuff out of the way so it doesn't get lost at the bottom of the blog post. If you are interested in taking one of these great tours, you can visit the West End Biz website at
or email directly. Heck, you can even go old school and call them at 204-954-7900.

These tours run until the end of August, but don't wait, if I recall correctly, space often sells out!

One of my favourite murals from the day was this one, of Zoohky, and I asked Sasha, one of this year's mural tour guides to refresh my memory about the story behind this one and this is what she had to say:
The one with the man and the bike is called “Zoohky” and is at 635 Sargent Ave. This was painted by Jill Sellers in 2003. This mural celebrates Walter Zielke Ruesch, also known as Zoohky. Zoohky lived in the West End for the majority of his life and was known by the whole community as helpful and kind-hearted. He would go around the community and found things that people had discarded such as old bicycles, stereos, toys, etc. and would fix them and donate them to families who benefitted from them. He didn’t have a means of supporting himself, so businesses in the community would give him donations so that he could continue living his lifestyle. He also lived with many cats that he rescued off the street and the local Safeway gave him cat food. Initially, the bicycle was not included in the mural but members of the community requested that it be included, so the artist went back a year later to paint the bicycle in. Zoohky was also a poet in his own right and in the mural he is holding his poem “Blue Danube.” This was published in the community newspaper West Central Streets. Zoohky passed away in 2002 at the age of 73.
I also really enjoyed the mural near the new University of Winnipeg building (which has TREES in it - they built around them, how cool is that?!) that was in tribute to the former Galaxy Roller Rink that was torn down to build the new classrooms and accommodation. I grew up being a "Saints" girl in my prime roller skating years but I did go to Galaxy a few times before it closed. We shall not even discuss the sad state that is the current Wheelies location. But now I am getting horribly off topic.

There are so many murals in the West End that the tour couldn't possibly take all of them in, but in whatever tour you take you'll get to learn so much more about history in Winnipeg, and of the West End in particular.

Be sure to ask your tour guide what the girls on the right were originally holding!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Spoilt for choice

Maybe it's just me, but I eat a lot of takeout. Like, far more than I should. I blame it on the fact that cooking for one person means tons of leftovers and I have a one portion of leftover maximum threshold. Now, if I'm already out and about I will often pick up my eats, but pickings are pretty slim here in the North End (in terms of variety at least) so I have been known to order in, especially if I've already changed into my pj's or my "let's get some crap around the house done" clothes - What Not to Wear imprinted in my mind that I'm not supposed to go out of the house in these sorts of things...

So although no bribery was really necessary as I have ordered from Skip the Dishes before, the good folk over there are trying to get the word out about their great service and may have enticed me to sit my butt down, stop procrastinating, and write a blog post. I may or may not have been stuffing my face as I wrote this post.

If you haven't used them before, the premise is this, go online, enter your postal code and what time you would like your food (either picked up or delivery) and up pops the options - and we're not just talking your standard pizza and Chinese food delivery options, although of course those are in the mix as well. The food of the world is at your fingertips - Canadian, Japanese, Ethiopian, Chinese, Middle-Eastern, Thai, Vietnamese, Korean, Indian and more; you can even get your sweet tooth on from places like Cake-ology, Goodie's and, drool, Johnnie's Sticky Buns. I opted for Chaise Cafe, which I hadn't yet had a chance to try in person - it was good value and delicious, two of my favourite things! And I'm not just saying that because I'm writing this post :)

A few little details that I like about Skip the Dishes? Well, the delivery fee, which varies from restaurant to restaurant, all goes to the "Food Courier" (aka Delivery Driver) as does any tip you may leave. I like that they're up front about that. They offer local chat help on the website, which goes a long way in my books - I've become quite frustrated with websites offering "help" that is really just a call (typing?) centre that will have the business in question give you a phone call later (all car dealerships please take note of this - this is not useful, if I wanted to talk to someone, I would have called in the first place).

Things I find a little quirky about the site are things like 99 Cent Pizza is a restaurant option, and they have a $5 minimum order and free delivery; this would be great except that the cheapest thing on their available menu is $14.99?? In general I find that the "minimum order" amount is a little strange - I mean, if you're willing to pay the delivery fee, what difference does it make what you order? Most don't seem to have a minimum order though and there are even a few that waive the delivery fee with a fairly small order ($10-$15) - I checked and they (Skip the Dishes) pay the food courier what the delivery fee would have been in those cases, so no need to worry that your desire to be frugal is costing someone else their income :)

Finally, if work or pleasure happens to bring you to Calgary, Saskatoon, Regina or Red Deer, fear not you don't need to blindly navigate your way around those cities trying to find something good to eat as Skip the Dishes will bring some of the best of those cities straight to your hotel room.

*Fear not readers, I'm not going to turn into one of those insincere blogs that is constantly pitching things yada yada yada. It just so happens I love eating and I love Winnipeg so occasionally if some PR person sends something my way and I think that there is a way I can be genuine about telling people about it or if I think people will want to know about it (hello IKEA opening!) then heck ya, this poor two-job working blogger may jump on the bandwagon! That said, I won't hold back my real feelings so if something sucks I will let you know (probably best that PR people realize that before sending me ridiculous things/ideas, I have at least a few morals left!)

Thursday, May 15, 2014

I bought adorable shoes in the North End

...and with one title I alienated almost all of my male readers. But this post isn't really about shoes. It's about the fact that there is now somewhere new that people can buy clothes here in the North End.

I noticed the other day that on Main St. a new little shop seemed to have quietly opened its doors, and when I had a chance I popped in to take a look. "Treasures by Diva - Recycling Boutique" has only been open for 3 weeks, but owner Annette (I'm guessing Treasures by Annette doesn't have the same ring?) is no stranger to the North End; she had a shop on Main at Mountain that closed down two years ago. After a stint in Thompson, she is back in Winnipeg.

Her new shop is a much better space than her old one, and has parking right out front. It feels bright and her merchandise on my visit was a good mix of higher end mall labels (Tommy Hilfiger and such), some special occasion and she even had a little bit of vintage. Throw accessories and hats into the mix and you have a nice little shop. Don't be shy about asking if the furniture is for sale, Annette tells me she wants to get into selling a bit of vintage furniture as well. The 1940s dressers that were in the shop were already spoken for!

She does consignment and will also take donations (I didn't dig deep but I got the sense that the donations were priced lower to help make things even more affordable for those on a budget) and I believe she is looking into giving trade value as well. Overall I found her prices to be mostly quite fair, you will certainly find them reasonable if you are used to paying the highway robbery prices at Value Village.

Hopefully a proper sign will be in place by the time you visit as it can be easy to miss right now.  Treasures by Diva is located a 1404 Main St., just south of Atlantic Ave.

Oh, and those adorable pink polka dot shoes (brand new, had been sold at hoity toity anthropologie) - they went home with me - who said research couldn't involve a little retail therapy?

Tuesday, May 6, 2014


You may not know it, but the simple port-a-potty can almost complete sum up why you don't need to automatically be afraid of the North End.

Last week the City started some sort of project on the street next to my house. Despite the fact that in stereotypical fashion there seemed to be one worker for every three guys standing around supervisor, and that actual hours worked didn't seem to be too many, they brought in a port-a-potty, or port-a-john if you prefer (port-a-loo if you're British!)

And then they left it there.

All week and weekend.

Now, much of the bad stuff that happens here in the North End is the result of teenagers with not much else to do. Arguably, some of that could be fixed with increased funding to recreation programs, family programs, housing allowances (so that they actually have a space of their own wherever they are living - nothing says get me out of the house like sharing a bedroom with your siblings!) and on and on and on.

Of course, sometimes, teenagers are just going to get up to no good because that's what teenagers do. As I've mentioned before, I grew up in a relatively privileged part of town, so much so that new McMansions were built in a former deer-filled meadow across the street from me.

With construction workers on site for months at a time, they needed somewhere to relieve themselves. Enter the port-a-potty.

Watch the bored suburban teenagers burn it down. I did. My bedroom window had a perfect view of it.

Goodness knows this wasn't the only act of vandalism that happened while I grew up in the 'burbs, but to this day I can't see a port-a-potty without thinking of the pile of melted plastic and uh, other stuff, that it turned into.

Moral of the story? Bored, under-supervised youth get into trouble in every part of town; it just doesn't always make the news. Much of what happens here in the North End is "typical" bored teenager stuff, not quake-in-your-boots-lock-your-car-doors-when-driving-through sort of stuff.

*Note - the port-a-potty was gone this morning, and not because anyone burned it down, tipped it over etc. We will chalk that one up in the "win" column :)

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

It's a bird! It's a plane! It's..... retail????

(The alternate title, of "It's a social service agency! It's an education centre! It's.... retail!", while more accurate, wasn't as catchy)

That's right folks, in the cute-as-a-button storefront at 788 Selkirk Ave, a retail store has emerged. I popped in back in January to see what Teri Beads was all about. Turns out it's a bead shop, owned by a woman named Teri. Huh, who would've guessed?

I remember seeing the construction take place last fall sometime, a bright white clean interior taking the place of what was offices (I believe Doug Martindale and Kevin Chief both used the space at some point). In a sea of places to that can help you get back on your feet, but nowhere to go once you do, it's a breath of fresh air to see some retail.
"Don't worry, bead happy!"

Sure, not everyone needs beads (she also has other decorative things like ribbon and such), but it's a start. Teri has kept the space nice and simple and her bright colourful beads are a particularly enjoyable sight during this long dirty winter. With the transformation of the Merchant's Hotel into education and housing space, more and more people will be coming to Selkirk Ave. on a daily basis; I think this means great opportunities for retail/restaurant spaces. With real estate now at a premium city-wide, you might want to think about Selkirk Ave - it once was a hub for shopping in the neighbourhood and could be again.

If you can't make it down to Selkirk Ave., clearly because you are not mobile, not because you are afraid of Selkirk Ave. (not an acceptable reason) check out Teri's online shop or her facebook page.

Also, when you pop down there, you will almost be directly across from Lao Thai restaurant - try the salad rolls, they're divine.