Wednesday, December 21, 2011

My first Jets game

First seat view...
I feel like I found a unicorn. A friend called me up, out of the blue and asked if I wanted to go to the Jets game last night. As I do not have a super sports oriented group of friends, this invite was particularly unexpected. I was hoping to get to take in a game and figured eventually my number would come up in the lottery system, although maybe not this year.

I have always enjoyed attending random sporting events now and again, I may not understand every play but hey, it's not like I understand all the finer points of everything in the arts either. When I visited New York a last summer I took in a Yankee game - just because. It turned out to be one of the highlights of my trip. I tried to take in a Moose game once a year and although it's been a while for the Bombers and Goldeyes I've been to both of those as well. My lack of attendance at Bomber games can be blamed on the fact that I am a fair weather sports fan only and since the Bombers sell out so frequently my chances of rounding up a group and getting tickets on the day of are pretty slim.

Now, besides the obvious loss, the game was fantastic, I'm hooked. Winnipeg Girl would officially love to join you at a game if you have an extra ticket (especially if it's free (!) as last nights was - I'll pick up the tab for  the overpriced beer and even be the DD). The atmosphere was incredible. While I do question why it takes worshiping guys who make millions to bring out civic and national pride, it is undeniable that being surround by so many people with so much passion for anything is catching.

Second seat view (we rotated between a pair and single seat)
Thank you to the random guy next to me who tried to explain icing, and a shout out to my cousin and her husband who won the "kiss cam" in their superhero costumes. I also thoroughly enjoyed the dude in the stormtrooper costume and I sat just down from a row of Santas. I don't understand how the guy in the full green bodysuit was able to see the game though...

I love the now legendary Winnipeg shout of "TRUE NORTH" during the anthem, and on the ride home I felt a small victory in the world of boys vs. girls as I schooled my male passengers on the Legend of the Octopus (thank you google, as they refused to believe me). I don't know if Winnipeg needs another "thing" as we already claim rights to the "White Out" and now the True North shout, and, although I'm grossly fascinated by the throwing of random sea-creatures (and a 4 ft shark????) perhaps if we ever go that route we could do something a little less gross - maybe fly remote controlled planes or giant paper airplanes?

Here's hoping this wasn't my first and only Jets game - GO JETS GO!

Monday, December 19, 2011

A tale of two neighbourhoods

Last week a Winnipeg family suffered a terrible fire that will change their lives forever. Of course the commenters who troll the comment sections of the various media outlets were out in full force. What a difference being rich makes. Almost a year ago, another Winnipeg family suffered a catastrophic fire where they also lost everything, but the commenters were a little less sympathetic. Now, strangely, the comments on the FreeP stories seem to have disappeared; all the links I followed on the North End fire offered me the chance to be the first commenter - somehow I don't think that everyone forgot to comment on that site.

The one comment on the Linden Woods fire that took a shot at the comments that usually end up on any story about the North End (or other supposedly less than desirable place) got deleted; I don't remember what it was exactly and it wasn't as articulate as it could have been but it touched on the fact that if were to comment in the same way about this we would need to question if this was perhaps a grow-op (even though the article clearly stated it wasn't, but that never stops the genius commenters normally, although I do think it was all said tongue in cheek) Of course if it was a true mirror of they type of comment generally made about the North End it would have read more like this "What do you expect in a neighbourhood like that, it was probably Asian gangs growing marijuana, houses there are always getting shot at"

In the North End fire, although there were sympathetic comments on the CBC story many of them also chose to zero in on the father of the 10 children, attacking his character and the fact that he had so many children. I can only presume that in the mysteriously missing FreeP comments section there was the standard "burn the whole neighbourhood down" comment that I see every time there is reference to fire in my neighbourhood. Curiously in the case of the Linden Woods fire, the commenters lambaste the the Free Press for daring to mention who the victim was or what he did for a living, saying it wasn't relevant. Yet telling the world that the father of 10 was unemployed and on welfare was apparently relevant to the North End fire. To be fair, the FreeP only mentioned he was unemployed, it was the commenters in the CBC story that felt the need to mention that he was on welfare, and link to a story (that I couldn't open because I'm not a paid Globe subscriber) that implied it would dish all sorts of other details about this man and his life.

I think that more than anything, what the reporting for the Linden Woods fire stories are missing are more details about the cause of the fire. We've now learned that it was caused by a heater in the garage, but I want to know way more details and I think the media is missing out on a great opportunity to educate the public. Forgive me if one of the media outlets did go into more detail and I just happened to have missed it - I was pretending to have a bit of a life this weekend and reading excessive amounts of news is usually more of a weekday thing.

So what exactly caused the Linden Woods fire? Was it because they plugged a heater in with an extension cord? Did they drape something over the heater? Was it a baseboard heater with faulty wiring? Was the heater just plain left unattended like all the instruction manuals warn us never to do??

On a very random note, did you know that it seems to be Linden Woods not Lindenwoods? One of the main streets that crosses through there is Lindenwood Dr. so I suppose that's where the confusion comes from. It also seems as though business are split on what to call it as there are both when they use the community name in the business name. I think I corrected all my "errors" but I will likely revert to my old ways eventually - I've apparently been spelling it wrong for about 20 years already!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Postmaster

Well, we've reached the one time of year that people might actually use the post office. Packages have been trickling in to my place fairly steadily for the last few weeks (3 avid ebayers, one who also is seemingly addicted to Amazon/Chapters). However, even though I'm not all that old, I can see how the role of the local post office and mail carrier has changed.

When I first move into my house I had the same guy bring the fast food advertising mail at the same time every day but it seems as though as of the last year or so there has been a rotating cast that delivers. I never did get to find out if my guy was this guy, but I don't think he was. I also don't think they try very hard to deliver parcels that require a signature - I always seem to end up with the little notice that tells me to pick it up tomorrow at my local postal outlet. Although as I discovered the other day, they are not a "real" post office because I couldn't do anything regarding my claim for damages to the contents of my package there. I also get a kick out of how you MUST produce ID - when I used to live at my dad's place in the country, and the Post Mistress knew exactly who I was, she wouldn't release things without ID. Or the time when my dad was out of the country and having his mail forwarded to my house in the city and they weren't going to let me pick up a piece of mail with his name on it at the post office, even though clearly he was fine with having all of his mail go to my house and my ID has my address on it.

Enter the new Postmaster, the border-town entrepreneur. Anyone who has ever ordered anything from the States online has dealt with this problem:
Image from here 

But once you read the fine print, that only applies for shipping within the US. If, and why on earth would you, you would like that package shipped to the country that sees something like 90% of their population live within an hour of the border, then you can expect to pay through the nose and then customs and brokerage fees on top of that. I remember one time where shipping would be free to the US but $69 to Canada! Never mind the fact that it seems to take about 3 weeks on average for a parcel to reach Winnipeg.

Just in Pembina, ND alone there are at least three places that will accept a parcel for you for a fee (generally $5 for smaller packages). I have been using Pembina Parcel Service for years (Mike's Parcel Pickup and Corner Bar Parcel Pickup are some of the newer players in the game). Hetty, who, bless her, seems like she should probably be living in a lovely sunny retirement community somewhere rather than running what is arguably a very flourishing business (they've just expanded). Since I've been using Hetty from back in the day when you used to pick up your parcel using the honour system - you opened the garage, took your parcel and put your $5 in the honour box! - I feel a sense of loyalty to her. Plus, she always seems to at least vaguely remember me which is a nice touch in a society where we're all just numbers. I've been tempted to use Menke's Parcel in nearby Neche, ND as his prices are better, especially for smaller packages but his hours are pretty limited.

A small drawback to these types of services is that they charge per package so if (and this seems to happen frequently with places like the merchant decides to ship as product is available rather than all at once you might get dinged with multiple $5 fees. A couple of things that I have learned about online shopping that I feel worthy to pass on, as I have so little advice to bestow upon the world:
  • Always google the company and "promo code" or "coupon code". Often if they are not already offering free shipping or sale prices you can cut your cost quite a bit. I saved $50 on a pair of boots by doing this. No, I won't tell you how much the boots cost in the first place to be able to save that much; let's just say I think they're made from happy cows and sewn by virgin peasants or something, or at least they'd better be. Ultimately, in that case, as much as I would have liked to shop local, I saved over $110 by doing it my way vs. shopping at The Shoe Doctor.
  • If they will only allow you to pay with a credit card with a US address, change a less used card that you might have to online only statements and change your address to Pembina Parcel Service. I have a Visa that I only rarely use and almost always for that purpose. is a great site for used books and music that only accepts US address - although beware of the "shipped from ML" as this means it may not all come in one shipment
  • Before you shop ANY online retailer see if they participate in either or the aeroplan estore (as a bonus, I believe all of those stores listed ship to Canada, but I can't speak to the shipping differences that may exist). I've found that the ebay store will default to ebay Canada, so an item you were looking at may not show up in the search, simply save it in you watch list on and then find it again when you sign in to via airmiles/aeroplan.
Some of you may think it's nuts to go all the way to the border just to pick up a package, but that really depends. First, no one said you had to make a special trip, work it into a weekend away and then, even better, you can make the purchases part of your duty free allowance. Second, in the case of the company trying to charge me $69 for shipping it was technically cheaper for me to take time off work and spend the gas money to go and get it, plus it meant getting it much faster (I didn't actually have to take time off, I just did it when I would have been doing some other random thing with my time).

Oh, and on the off chance you do have a regular mail carrier or newspaper carrier, don't forget that a card with a Timmies gift card or something is much appreciated.

Thursday, December 1, 2011


The Times, what do you mean what is The Times? It's a community newspaper, maybe yours is called the Metro or Herald. No idea? Hmm... it's the thing your flyers come "wrapped" in. Ah ha! Ok, now that we're on the same page, The Times had a great article on the front page this week, talking about how Arlington is only one lane in either direction. First though, seriously, how many flyers can they stuff in that thing?? I actually cancelled my flyers a few months back because although I much prefer flipping through the glossy pages to looking at the online versions, I just could no longer justify the trees that were suffering for my pleasure. Plus, we get them at the office. If you find some of your flyers seem to be missing, it could be because the child-labourers who have to hand stuff and then deliver them in the freezing cold at a whopping $.05 a paper, found that it was a better idea to just dump them in the bush near Wilkes. Oh wait, sorry, that was me when I was 9. As if my parents let me do that. Times were different then, oh the 80's...

Wow, sorry, sugary holiday treats have started to turn my occasional inattention into full blown ADD. Moving along. Now, Arlington, for those who have never ventured down it, is absurdly wide from Portage to Notre Dame. Of course, it's only absurd because technically it's only one lane in either direction, yet clearly a total of four lanes wide. So according to MPI spokesman Brian Smiley "there hasn't been an unusually high number of insurance claims made by motorists using the street". Really? He should ask my best friend who was found 50% at fault for hitting someone who was turning left because my friend had opted to drive in the imaginary second lane that everyone drives in. Anyone who tries to treat Arlington as one lane treats everyone behind them to a serious case of road rage.

One could argue that we should all know it's only one lane because of the lack of painted lines creating separate lanes. However, in a city like Winnipeg, with a climate like ours and all the abuse our roads take, the lines tend to wear off pretty quickly and we are frequently left to our own expert judgment guesstimates as to which lane is which all over the city (don't even get me started on how the lines that finally did end up painted on DunOsMemCoBaIsaTer at St. Mary's force one lane into a lane that effectively deadends right after Portage rather than into the next closest lane to the median...) So we can be forgiven for thinking that a road that is clearly wide enough for 4 cars across is designed for, say, 4 cars. Europeans would probably think it's a six lane road!

For years, when you headed south and crossed over Notre Dame there was no indication that the clearly marked two lanes that you had just been on had only become one, other than the aforementioned missing lines - all the more reason one might presume that they had worn off. As well, generally the only place there is consistently parked cars is right at Notre Dame by the school/church, and even then half the time it's just the photo-radar car lying in wait (slow down there if you didn't already know - it's there ALL the time).

I think there should be a move to officially turn it into two lanes in either direction and while they're at it, they should solve how to make it so you don't get stuck behind someone trying to turn left onto Logan when all you want to do is head over the beautiful Arlington Bridge (the right lane is right turn only, but you could miss an entire light cycle stuck behind someone).

This post actually manages to tie in with my last post as well...
Photo from Times website

See the second car at the bottom left of the photo? The Scirocco? That's my friend. No strangers in Winnipeg.

So how do you guys drive on Arlington? One lane? Two lanes? Should it change?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

And this is why there are no strangers in Winnipeg

We've all heard it expressed before that Winnipeg is one giant overgrown farm town, and that everyone knows everyone, but I just had one of my strangest experiences to date. So while browsing the MLS (as one does. Right? Everybody does that right?? I mean, that's how I found this place, which is still for sale, with a $10,000 price drop from the time of the original post) I came across this charming little place on Selkirk Ave.

After reading the wordy description, which I of course liked, as I have, ahem, been known to be a bit wordy myself, I decided to click through to the pictures to see if it would better jog my memory as to which house this actually was. And what did I find? Well gosh darn it if I didn't find a piece of original "artwork" designed by Winnipeg Girl herself! Seriously. What are the odds of that? Now, of course you're all wondering if I'm actually some sort of high profile artist that you've seen in a gallery (okay, maybe one of you is wondering) and that of course then it wouldn't be odd to come across my works occasionally in Winnipeg homes.

The MLS link will go dead after the house sells so here it is.
What if I told you that it was a piece I decorated back in the day (well, more like the middle of the night actually) when I used to get home from late night restaurant shifts and needed to do something to unwind while watching Law & Order reruns at 2am? What? There were no blogs then. Plus, I lived in a non descript concrete construction apartment block in River Heights so there wasn't really much to blog about. Don't judge.

So, I called (okay, texted) the friend who had bought the chair from me at my yard sale only to find out that she had in turn sold it in a yard sale a few years later. So my admittedly primitive piece of "art" went from a yard sale in the North End to a yard sale in St. James and ended up back in the North end on Selkirk Ave. And then I saw a picture of it on the internet. To think that people actually wonder how it is that everybody knows everybody by three degrees of separation or less.

It also makes me happy that it is nicely displayed and not shoved in a corner :)

Monday, November 21, 2011

Yawwwwwn. Is it summer?

So the other night I was awoken by the sounds of shouting and cursing. I tried to roll over and go back to sleep but the shouting continued - now shouting in the middle of the night isn't exactly uncommon - but it's more of a summer thing as a general rule. So eventually it reached the point where I determined that it didn't seem to be happy shouting so I thought that it was probably best to at least take a peek.

So out of my warm and comfy bed I got. The shouters had moved on down the road to one of the trouble houses and promptly engaged in what seemed like a fistfight. I figured that was as good a time as any to call the boys in blue. As I watched and waited for their arrival, the shouters decided to liberate two of my neighbours of their side mirrors. Thankfully they were only about half a block away when the police showed up, and combined with their footprints in the freshly fallen snow they will be get to visit the revolving door of our justice system. I however simply received a visit from the dark circle, puffy eye fairy.

All things considered, what with kids running around with guns and such these days, I suppose that was a pretty good outcome. Of course colour me devastated that it wasn't actually summer outside; I mean, they were playing football today, that should indicate as well that it's summer (Congratulations Bombers! My fingers are crossed for the fairytale ending next weekend).

Monday, November 14, 2011

Merry Christmas* to me.

Is it wrong that this is the time of year that makes me want to shop - for myself? It's the Winnipegger in me, but I can't seem to pass up all the bonus offers that retailers offer this time of year. I'm not the biggest fan of giving gift cards to other people, most of the time it seems fairly impersonal; however, giving them to myself is just good financial planning.

For example, fude, one of my favourite places to nosh, is having their annual Christmas offer, in fact I think this one is better than usual - if I buy myself a $100 gift card, they will throw in a $50 bonus one. So, if I basically pre-pay for a place that I'm going to eat at anyway, I get myself a free dinner in the process.

All sorts of places do bonus offers this time of year (I'm going to cite examples from previous years), so if you know you're going to eat at McDonald's anyway throughout the year, why not buy the gift card and get the bonus Big Mac. Offers like that are pretty common at fast food places, but you're not limited to fast food - Tony Roma's will throw in a bottle of their signature BBQ sauce, and I think Boston Pizza does something every year as well. Do you watch movies? Well, buy yourself a Cineplex gift card and get yourself their bonus coupons - one of them was a % off coupon for Chapters which you can use on yourself or discount your Christmas present shopping.

As if we don't get enough emails already, but signing up for those weekly ad reminders and such can bring about some pretty great deals as well - bonus airmiles from Safeway for buying things like gift cards can help make it worth it. And if you are extra crazy (like me) then you know that when you buy gift cards at Safeway, not only do you earn airmiles on the total purchase, but if you have an Aerogold Visa you also get 1.5 times the Aeroplan points...

Does anyone else do this? I mean it makes November/December particularly expensive, but the rest of the year benefits.

*It is okay to start talking about Christmas now because Egg Nog is now in store. Has anyone else ever noticed that the French side of Egg Nog basically translates as Chicken Milk?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Love thy neighbour

You know when one of the strangest and most unexpected things totally changes the entire tone of your day? First a little background I guess. I know I tend to harp on the suburbs, and obviously I'm aware that there are all sorts of good people who live in the suburbs and that lots of the things that I love about living in the North End could apply to every part of town. But that wasn't my experience growing up.

Growing up in Charleswood, I got to experience what we're all supposed to want - a nice big yard, we didn't lock the door when we were at home or in the garden, streets that were safe to walk day and night and playgrounds within walking distance. The problem I found is that none of us talked to each other. I mean, that wasn't entirely true, I was the papergirl so I knew everyone (and damned if I didn't curse the people who thought it was no big deal for me to just come back again and again to collect for it, serious child labour there).

I don't know if my parents knew anyone one on the street. In fact most of the neighbours probably hated my parents - if the Neighbourhood Liveability By-Law had existed back then they were probably violating it left right and centre. We can talk about the livestock my parents kept IN THE BASEMENT another time though.

Oh Arborite, what a colourful addiction!
So today was great for two reasons, one, a neighbour with whom I've had many chats about the aforementioned Neighbourhood Liveability By-Law, is getting ready to move and thankfully one time I had mentioned that if she was to ever get rid of her fabulous arborite buffet that I hoped that she would call me first. She did. A biiiiiiiiiiig thanks goes out to her for enabling my hoarding! Now one day when I use my cache of 50's kitchen tables to open a cafe (as there is no other logical option for what a person can do with 7 kitchen tables. I don't want to open a cafe, but I may have no choice) I will have a funky matching buffet, maybe the cash register can sit on top. So I suckered a friend into helping me move it down the street - we didn't quite do it North End style (with a shopping cart) but we did use a borrowed dolly to roll it down the middle of the street.

The second thing was the thing that really tugged at my pride in my neighbourhood (kind of like this post, but no murder tie-in). As we were tucking the buffet into its new home in the corner in the bar what? it's not the 1970's? people don't have bars in their house anymore? shame the doorbell rang. And contrary to every person the media has ever managed to interview in the North End, I went to answer it. Of course it's a full glass door that was unlocked with the main door behind wide open so it would have just seemed silly to try and hide...

So who was at the door? No idea, one of my poorer social skills is that I forget to ask, and then remember peoples names, but they were both neighbours. Turns out they had been meaning to stop by for a while and took advantage of seeing the lights on and door open; they noticed that I have a collection of old leaded and stained glass windows hanging in my sun porch, did I perhaps want to buy another one? The gentleman works in renovations and knows that people like those old windows, so I promptly followed him home to take a look at it. Now of course he didn't pull that window out and keep it just for me, but in their small but tidy little apartment, there it sat, waiting at least in part because he thought his neighbour might be interested in it.

It was both a happy and humbling experience. As much as I love the North End I do see the bad things as well as the good and I sometimes need to be reminded to not pass judgments on people based on appearance; my initial reaction of seeing those folks at my door was not that they were there as some of my "good" neighbours, yet after chatting with them for a bit I'm reminded what happens when we assume.

MY North End has people that I've never met that think about me, just because my house is part of what they associate with their community
MY North End has teenagers that wear their pants half off their butts (and don't commit crimes) just like yours does. Forget hockey gear drives, we need belt drives
MY North End has a recurring cast of characters that may look a bit down and out, but that also deservedly feel that they belong as well (one day I hope to chat with some of them and hear their stories and pass them on)
MY North End has a crazy blogging arborite hoarding chick who is going to try to pay it forward just a little more often

Monday, November 7, 2011

One stop shopping?

*a reminder that I finally joined Twitter (why, I'm still not entirely sure) but follow me to hear random musings that aren't quite exciting enough for their own full blown post (unlike the titillating post you are about to read below)

I sadly do far more shopping at 7-11 than I probably should, but with my love of Slurpee's I'm there anyway... and I suppose by shopping I mostly buy milk to eat with my cereal  (I don't think Sex and the City ever adequately covered the real lives of single women - I wear Sorels not Manolo's as a secondary bone that I have to pick...) and buy the odd scratch ticket. So, two things that the residents of Island Lakes should consider before trying to stop a 7-11 from infiltrating their quiet suburban neighbourhood (which I learned about from Policy Frog).

First, Sev seems to constantly have the best deal in town on Ben & Jerry's ice cream - 2 for like $10 - perfect for a night on the couch with................ a rented movie from their fancy pants new video rental machines! According to the clerk that I spoke with at the Main St. location where I spotted this new addition, they likely will indeed end up at your local Slurpee pit-stop soon.

For those of you like myself who have not joined the Netflix bandwagon or learned how to download these sorts of things for free, it's a welcome addition to the new-release/hollywood blockbuster video market (because of course, if you want something old or something interesting, Movie Village will always remain the place to go). Also, at only $1.99, I dare say worth renting from rather than the red machines that have popped up in the the last year or so at Safeway if only because 7-11 is always open.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Spreading your dollars through the community

I invite you to join me tomorrow morning at the Wild Blueberry Pancake Breakfast in support of LITE. I have gone to this even the past few years and it has always been a really good time. There is entertainment and local craftspeople have booths set up. Something that really makes my day is that they use (or at least they have in the past, I imagine it will also continue this year) environmentally conscious practices. All of the plates/cups/utensils are compostable and they have volunteers to help make sure that it goes into a pile to be composted rather than the regular garbage. They also have tons of recycling bins available for the juice and milk boxes.

I'm hoping to win those Jets tickets or the West Jet airfare package so I can escape some of the upcoming winter weather!

Since clearly I love supporting anything that has to do with food, another great local option is the Ellice Cafe and Theatre which is a fantastic little non-profit in the West End. What makes it even better is right now they have one of those little deal-y things that I'm such a fan of. For a mere 10 bucks you get $20 worth of dinner and a movie pass for two! Where else can you get dinner and movie for that price? Although I would suspect that by the time all was said and done you'd be looking at about another $10 but still a bargain. I also didn't realize that they show recent movies in their little theatre - can't wait to go!

If eating in is more your thing, look into the Good Food Box offered through North End Food Security Network. At the moment I don't believe they are delivering but if you live or work in the North End they do have multiple pick up points. I've been buying this box since the summer and I always look forward to all the fresh fruits and veggies (including local produce when possible). For $12 I get enough food to fill my beautiful 1948 GE and some great recipes and the spices to go with them. I believe some of the other communites also do something similar, West Broadway being one.

So hopefully I'll see some of you tomorrow morning at the Pancake Breakfast - although, it tends to be a madhouse in there - go early to get a good seat for the entertainment!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

It's an uphill battle

Well, this one isn't as clear cut as some of the other examples, but crime from other parts of town are being attributed to the North End again. The shooting of Mohamed Ali Omar on the weekend apparently happened in the North End. But didn't that happen on McPhillips you ask? McPhillips near Mountain? It sure did. Now, the boundaries of the North End are different depending on who you ask, although I can pretty much guarantee anyone who lives right by where that happened doesn't consider themselves to be living in the North End, for example, almost all real estate listings near there on the MLS attribute it to Shaughnessey Heights. So why don't we use the boundaries that the NORTH END Community Renewal Association uses - seems like they should have an idea of what constitutes the North End. According to a map I found on one of the old newsletters I have kicking around, their work in the North End ends on the East side of McPhillips, so therefore the West side would be another community.

Yes, I am splitting hairs a bit with this one, but it's just so frustrating knowing that if something good had happened there it wouldn't have happened in the North End. I don't think McPhillips Station Casino ever is billed as being in the North End, that wouldn't be good for business, and one could argue that the closer to Selkirk Ave. that you are, the more "North End" it is. So I didn't bother reporting the "error" to the FreeP, because I suppose, in a bit of a stretch it could be considered the North End. Of course I don't think that's where suburbanites would think to be afraid as they head through the city on their way to Highway 8 and the Interlake, so if it's reported as the North End* they can feel safe because goodness knows, they don't go to the North End.

*to be fair, the article does mention the approximate intersection where the Lincoln Hotel is located, but after first mentioning that it was in the North End, which I think is the only part people tune in to since they all know they avoid the North End anyway, doesn't really matter which murder filled intersection it was at.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The things I do for my adoring public...

Well, I've sacrificed myself again, just to bring you some of the latest and greatest that Winnipeg (and the North End in particular) has to offer. *Sarcasm font still in development*. I also joined "the Twitter"(admittedly, I still don't get the point of it - but please feel free to follow me - and it will help me find some of you as well, as all Twitter wants me to follow is dumb celebrities). @lovemelovemywpg

A week or so ago, I tried two places that are newer to the scene here in the North End, Island Flava and Sugar Blooms and Cakes. Now, Jamaican cuisine is not something I expected to find here in the North End, partly because I haven't noticed too many Jamaican folks here and also because sadly they seem to have one of the worst locations a start-up business could hope to have; very little foot traffic and not even on a route that commuters would pass through. Of course, in today's fast moving world, I started this post and saved it to work on later and the FreeP beat me to the punch and did a review in Friday's paper on it, so since Marion Warhaft is actually more of an expert on these sorts of things I'll let her talk it up. I'll summarize with a "get there before it's gone" and also a note that the lovely proprietor may be able to help you with catering your next event - I gave her a budget and she came through with a huge spread that wowed my lunch meeting guests.

Next, I went to the newly opened Sugar Blooms. I was looking for a dessert for that same meeting and was hoping that this new bakery was part of the cupcake craze that seems to have taken North America. Apparently they do indeed make cupcakes (although it does not seem as though it's a specialty of theirs) but they were out when I stopped in so I decided to try something completely different - Brazo de Mercedes, a Filipino dessert described on Wikipedia as "a rolled cake or jelly roll, is made from a sheet of meringue rolled around a custard filling". Reviews by my guests who had also never had it were quite favourable. As well if you've ever had a hankering for Ube Macapuno, or as I tend to call it, Purple Filipino Cake, they of course have that as well. Sugar Blooms is easy to find, just head west on Selkirk, and you will find it just past Arlington.

Two new North End businesses - I wish them both the best of luck! Oh, and for people who are better at this technology thing than I am, could you tell me what thingamajig I'm supposed to install gadget wise to make it easy for folks to click a button over on the side ---> to follow me on Twitter? Much appreciated! (The only one I could find when searching their available gadgets said it was a broken one so it wouldn't let me install it).

Monday, October 31, 2011

Hallowe'en in the 'hood

Well today is the day when all the scary things roam the streets dressed in all sorts of different disguises. Or, if you are over 18 and female, that day was Saturday when everyone put on their best store bought trampy outfits and paraded around the city half-naked under the guise of it being a Hallowe'en costume. God help me, I went to a social on Saturday night (if you are unsure of how I feel about that, click the link). Let's just say, two trays of hot meatballs does not constitute a "hot lunch" (as my TWELVE dollar ticket promised). To be fair, the costumes were better than I expected and the homemade  vs. pre-packaged store bought was about an even split. And I think that a few years ago I made an equally good homemade Red Fraggle vs. the extremely expensive looking one I saw on Saturday.

So, Hallowe'en is this evening, and I won't be handing out candy tonight, for about the 4th year in a row. No, it is not because I'm terrified to open the door. Seriously, who are those people and would they please stop talking to the media! The first year I lived here I was SO excited about handing out candy - I even packaged it all in little bundles, ready to give each kid a baggie of sugary goodness. That, ladies and gents, has probably  been my biggest disappointment with the North End.

I will happily give candy to anyone young or old in a costume, however, wearing a mask from the dollar store and holding open a pillowcase does not get you the goods - unless you are under 10, in which case I understand the financial constraints your family might have, then you get candy. You also do not get to have candy for your sleeping infant (I was asked for that on numerous occasions) your baby barely looks old enough for solid food, yet alone candy. So this is one point where I concede I act a bit differently because of where I live. If I lived back in Charleswood and the dollar store mask wearing teenager wanted candy, they would get some - right after they sang I'm a little teapot or something equally ridiculous. Now, likely in the 'burbs I would also worry a little about those kids getting revenge expressing their dislike for my methods, as come November 1st you see smashed pumpkins in the streets all over town; however, here in the 'hood, I would fear that more than just pumpkins might get smashed; there is a slightly different set of social norms over here.

So that is when I feel most uncomfortable about living here in the North End, Hallowe'en. And I don't even feel scared about the actual night itself, more that I just don't like that I feel a bit bullied into spending my hard earned dollars on candy for people who don't put in an effort. If that's the thing that makes me feel the closest to unsafe and the way around it is to turn the lights off for 4 hours one day of the year, I guess I'm okay with that.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

I didn't know what to call this post

...everything I started to typed seemed a bit cheesy. I'm having one of my moments where when thinking about the North End my heart starts to swell and I feel a sense of pride that I've never felt towards anything else. I guess what got me started thinking about it was the anniversary of the still unsolved triple shooting from a year ago. Yeah, I know, not usually a topic that would spur on warm fuzzy feelings. In the story linked above, I'm told that one of my neighbours is still too frightened to open the door and that children no longer play outside. Really? Because I live probably no more than 200m from where the Boyd shooting took place and all of my neighbours still open their doors and just the other day one family had a large celebration and the children happily played outside.

MY North End has hundreds of volunteers that make sure picnics and street festivals happen and that walk the streets keeping an eye on things
MY North End has more than a dozen agencies that do the best they can with the resources they have to help people receive an education, feed and house themselves and find jobs - a hand up not just hand outs
MY North End has hands down the best secondhand store in the city - the MCC on Selkirk Ave, some of the best coffee in the city at Black Pearl, and more meat shops than you can shake a Kulbasa at
MY North End greets me with one of the best views in the city every time I cross the Slaw Rebchuk - sunset behind the Arlington Bridge could be on a postcard
MY North End has industrious, hardworking citizens from all races and backgrounds
MY North End still has the most affordable housing in the city which has allowed many people to get their start on the property ladder, not all of those people leave as soon as they get the chance
MY North End has church dinners, bake and craft sales just like your neighbourhood does
MY North End has shops within walking distance and it's possible to live without a car - bus routes aplenty
MY North End has history on literally almost every corner

Yes, MY North End also has some criminals and there a more theories than there are perogies at an all you can eat fundraiser as to how to solve those problems. I am one person, and I've decided that they way I will help the North End is to love it. Love it unconditionally and when it stumbles, love it more. If the rest of Winnipeg, and the negative Nellie's in the North End itself would stop kicking and whipping it, eventually it might just stop attacking back. Negativity breeds negativity. Come visit and let me show you MY North End, it's a beautiful place.

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Wolseley Project - in the end

Well, summer is pretty much officially over, and boy was it a good one! For those of you who've been with me for a little while, you will remember my attempt to Wolseley-ify the North End a touch, with my boulevard flowers. I am very excited to say that I've decided the project was a success. It was also such a great conversation starter with folks who were walking by; even yesterday as I was pulling the soon to be dead flowers out, a young woman took the time to tell me how much she had enjoyed seeing them all summer and she also commented on how beautiful the rest of my flowers had been. I very happily and truthfully told her that that is exactly why I did it - for everyone to enjoy.

It wasn't without its hiccups, a torn out flower here and there, but I think the biggest hurdle they faced was a lack of water (sheesh, who was supposed to maintain those anyway?) and too much sunshine. However, me and my black thumb managed to keep them going, and really, is there such thing as too much sunshine?

Fall is has come and made itself comfortable here in the North End, and it's one of those times of year that I feel the difference the most strongly between here and other parts of town. Out in the 'burbs it can be a competition to keep the grass free of wayward leaves, but here in the North End with a partially aging and partially disengaged community, raking isn't something that is tops on the list of priorities. That being said, I mostly don't rake, I balance my tree-hugging self with my lazy self and mulch the heck out of the leaves with my gas lawnmower - if you "mow" the lawn twice it looks just as good as raking and you leave all those little leafy bits deep in the grass to become mulchy goodness. Of course, my poplar trees are the last freakin' trees in the neighbourhood to lose their leaves, usually not dropping off until the weight of the snow pulls them down, so my dreams of a flawless looking lawn are dashed. I've also learned, that it is worth every penny to hire magical fairies that come and power rake it in the spring, getting rid of all the gravel and sand that living on a corner gets you. I could of course leave it all there, but I view the boulevard as an extension of my lawn and maintain it as such.

As we know as well, Winnipeg Girl loves a good deal, and I've got another one to pass along - get your eaves cleaned for only $29 - you can buy one for yourself and unlimited as gifts. Do you know what is better than climbing up on a ladder in near freezing temperatures and cleaning out wet goopy leaves from your eaves troughs? Sitting inside, drinking something delicious and watching a Jets game. Or doing just about anything else, even cleaning the cat box is probably better. Now, on one hand, it's not like cleaning them out is all that difficult, and even with a deal like this, it would still be cheaper over time to buy a ladder and do it yourself. However, if you, like Winnipeg Girl do not have a built in person to hold the ladder and call 911 when you fall off (and let me tell ya, response times here in the 'hood are way better than if you are out in Sage Creek and need them to fetch your sorry broken butt) then this is a much better way to go! As an added bonus, well for me anyway, if you click my little link above for it then I collect some sort of points or something for referring you, which is just plain nice of you to do for me ;)

I'm already excited about next year and the Wolseley Project, take 2 - it's just what will be needed after what they are predicting as a long cold winter. *Shudder*

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Call me a prude but....

...I would think most people would prefer to buy their sex toys and games from the privacy of their own home. And of course being Winnipeggers, we would want to price compare - you can't beat online shopping for that!

I'm referring of course to the announcement that Discreet Boutique is closing their doors. According to the article in the FreeP the owner is blaming the demise on "harassment from downtown panhandlers". Downtown pandhandlers have been all over the news lately, scaring away Air Canada employees from their hotels is another of their trademarks, perhaps if only those cranky uptight Air Canada employees had been able to make it to Discreet Boutique to purchase some "relaxation aids" then we might not even be in the position of them talking about striking (as usual). My disdain for the general attitude of Air Canada employees aside, I just find it hard to believe that panhandlers have scared away all the delicate flowers wanting to purchase sex toys in Winnipeg.

In Winnipeg, where local gossip travelled at the speed of light (okay, maybe the speed of a cross-town bus) long before facebook, if you were buying something at DB with that gift certificate that you won at a social to get your rocks off, chances are, someone saw you; that's one of the drawbacks endearing qualities of a city like Winnipeg. Zero anonymity. I mean, most of us have probably stopped in to DB at some point, or maybe you just went to Dominion News as a giggling teenager to look at the various wiggling battery operated devices, or for the truly less adventurous, the 80's/90's mall staple - San Francisco. On a side note, did you know that Dominion News sells, y'know, like magazines? I went in there quasi-recently to find a small print magazine - totally forgot to look for dildos while I was there - maybe they don't even carry them anymore?!

We live in a society that doesn't freely talk about sex and masturbation, it's just not what we do for the most part. While respectable men and women, rich and poor may have shopped at DB over the years, the freedom to discreetly shop for these things from home on the internet without accidentally running into another mom from the PTA bakesale was probably what killed DB off rather than  the panhandlers. I mean, if you're willing to risk everyone in Winnipeg finding out what your sexual predilections are, then someone asking you for a dollar isn't going to keep you away.

Monday, October 3, 2011

WAR ZONE!!! Uh, probably not.

I, like many Winnipeggers was born and raised here.  I mean, I love it here, but fair enough if I was from somewhere else I would probably need a pretty compelling reason to move here, and that's mostly because of winter, not any other reason.

With the election happening tomorrow, and I dare say I'm looking forward to regular commercials on the radio again, there has been a lot of talk about crime in particular. Well, that and health care, but I know nothing about health care really, so I'll focus on crime. This morning as I hit the snooze button one last time I caught a snippet of  John Vernaus, the PC candidate for Point Douglas telling me I live in war zone. A war zone? Really? Again, I'm very lucky to have grown up in Winnipeg, a city smack dab in the middle of one of the best countries in the world to live in, so I have been very blessed to have never actually seen war, or so I thought, so maybe I have the details wrong on what exactly war entails.

This just seems so insulting to so many people - all around the world and immigrants who have come to Winnipeg to escape real wars at home. Wars where hundreds of people might be killed in a certain day. Innocent bystanders killed by bomb blasts on a regular basis. People murdered because of their religion or skin colour, murdered by strangers - not wannabe gangbangers playing what they seem to think is a video game. I guess I don't know for sure, but I would be surprised if a soldier who has returned to Winnipeg from serving in Afghanistan feels as though they haven't left a war.

Yes, Winnipeg is on track to rack up the most murders ever this year, but I don't think that the average person needs to quake in their boots about it; and I don't think putting 50 new police officers or whatever your party is promising on the beat would have changed the murder count one bit. Money for youth programming so that maybe these youths who are committing these crimes don't end up criminals in the first place? Yup, I'll buy that. But how would those 50 officers have saved the lady from the suburbs who was killed and stuffed in the trunk of her car? Or the grandmother who was killed by her granddaughter, or stopped the woman who set fire to the house on Austin St. and killed multiple people? Or even the 15 year old stabbed to death - unless they were there at exactly the right moment, it still would have happened. I'm pretty sure that all other conditions (the mindset of the murderers in particular would likely not have changed if a different party was in power) remaining the same that Winnipeg would have the exact same number of murders no matter what political party had been in power for the last 4 years.

Back to me living in a war zone, well, based on recent events I live in the epicenter of this war we are having and I imagine folks who are living in a real war zone would trade me places one million times over - this weekend I saw families having BBQ's and children playing in the streets and not one person being persecuted or killed for their beliefs. Even compared to the London riots in August, for which likening that to a war zone may have been closer to the truth, we really have little to complain about.

So, John Vernaus, please do not tell people that I live in a war zone, it is insulting to the survivors of war and the residents of the community that you hope to be elected in. Your commercial has only served to perpetuate the negative beliefs about a community that is indeed wounded but that will bounce back because it is filled with hardworking, resilient, caring people.

Okay people, if you didn't already vote at one of the ridiculously accessible advance polls, don't forget to get your vote on tomorrow, starting at *shudder* 7am!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Set the counter back to zero

Sigh. Well, we almost went a year without a murder on my street. Actually, I suppose if I want to be technical, it sounds like the 15 year old who was murdered a couple weeks ago was ultimately stabbed on my street as well, but the media was kind enough to primarily report the incident as being at College and Aikins; although, I suppose with my obsession with the media labelling neighbourhoods correctly in their news stories that is a touch hypocritical, but hey, my blog my rules ;)

Now, the police are being extraordinarily tight lipped with further details regarding the incident on Saturday night, and in one article I read apparently the RCMP had also been by the crime scene. I wonder if this means it's tied to one of the big gangs, with Canada wide ties, rather than the kid stuff we normally see in the North End? When the police were going door to door earlier in the summer to advise folks that there were gang members in the community, to which my reaction was along the lines of "Really??? Oh my goodness, I had no idea!!" (*insert sarcasm font between quotations), I learned, that apparently we actually do have "real" gangsters lurking about the neighbourhood - not just the kid and misguided barely-adult gangsters. The kinds that ride on motor-bikes instead of pedal-bikes.

Of course they found the neighbour to quote for the paper who wants to move because now they are too afraid to leave their house and so on, that's good, I always worry if they haven't found that person, although the other neighbour who "always hears gunshots" didn't seem to be quoted (as per almost every murder story, especially those involving firearms), I sure hope that wasn't the person  that was found dead. More sarcasm aside, right now I just feel a little curious about the who and if we're lucky enough to find out, the why.

I don't think the incident makes me feel any less safe on my street, I guess I don't really know what it would take for me to feel less safe. When I was searching to see if they had released any more information on the crime or the victim, I came across a story from 2007, also a murder on my street, and that one was random, with the police saying that it was a case of mistaken identity. It's odd that I don't remember that event, and I wonder why it didn't stick in my mind. At that point I hadn't even lived on the street for all that long. Perhaps I naively believe I'm safer because I think it's extremely unlikely that anyone would ever mistake me for a gang member, a gangsters girlfriend or the girlfriend of a rival gang member; except when putting my garbage in the autobin whilst in my pj's I generally look very generically lower-middle class So no, incidents like the one a few weeks ago, this weekend, or even in 2007 don't really frighten me. If I was going to be completely honest, my biggest fear that might actually come true is getting mugged, but since although I dearly love my handbag, genuine leather and all (I'm cheap and it was a treat to myself!) I would likely give it up in exchange for my safety. I also of course realize that sometimes that's how murders where a victim and culprit don't know each other start out - something as simple as a mugging. I also admittedly take slightly more precautions when out for a walk here than perhaps I would in the 'burbs, no more cash than I need for wherever I'm walking to, heck, I usually just bring my trusty friend Visa, no sense needing to replace my whole wallet if something happened.

Of course, part of the not necessarily bringing the purse thing is because do you know what a pain those things are??? Seriously, I miss my teen angst days with my chain wallet and when the only key I needed was a house key - now, between work keys, car keys, other car keys, house keys... and then there's the phone. Back in the day I had no cell phone, so I didn't need somewhere to put it; I think that is half the reason I ended up with a purse. I met a 6 year old with a purse the other day - if only the poor girl knew the half of it; what's fun and playing grown-up now will just end up being a catch all for everything and anything and likely holding all of her husbands stuff too (oh yes, you men do that - mock our giant handbags and then give us stuff to put in them for you!). Of course if I was ever in a roving edition of Let's Make A Deal I would likely have whatever they were looking for.

Speaking of purses, I actually know two people who fell victim to having their purses stolen while at cemeteries this summer - those are thugs that will hopefully get what's coming to them. Yeesh. Well, I'm off to reset the Boyd Ave. murder counter, so long as I don't keep it in my purse I should hopefully be okay.

Friday, September 23, 2011

I've been....


Now, obviously election signs are not that uncommon at this time, however what was unusual was that I didn't ask for these signs to be put on my prominent, corner lot fence, in BOTH directions. Now, don't get me wrong Kevin seems to be one heck of a guy, I've met him at numerous functions in the community over the years and he has always come across as being very genuine; perhaps too genuine for politics. I have a sneaky suspicion that he's really going to try to make a difference, at least at first. I also like that until recently it gave me another adult to talk to who was suffering through braces (he got his off now - I am still being tortured).

In fact, I probably would have been okay with keeping the sign on my fence, if for no other reason than he's the only candidate that I've actually met, but since I am working election day I have been told that demonstrating any sort of political support is a no-no. So I called the campaign office and they very efficiently sent someone down to take down the signs. However, I did ask for follow up as to how exactly those signs ended up on my fence (more on my motives for that in a minute, it was more than just idle curiosity). I was told, that, oops, they were meant for two different neighbours of mine, which of course may be true, but I'm more than a tad skeptical, and that's not just because one of the yards the newly torn down signs ended up on belongs to my 95 year old neighbour, of course she called and asked for a sign...

The main reason I'm more than a bit skeptical is that a friend of mine has been enumerating for the upcoming election and on several occasions has come across folks that flat out refuse to have their name added to the voters list, yet they have election signs in their yard. Does that not seem a touch contradictory? Yes please Candidate X, please put your sign in my yard indicating that I support you. Vote? Why would I vote? I didn't think that's why you wanted me to have a sign there! See? Seems a little suspect.

Now, this election is not the first nor will it be the last where there is some sort of controversy as to how, where and when signs get placed, but it certainly makes me wonder just how much support that Candidate X really has... maybe he or she just has more rogue volunteers.

Oh, and in other news, FREE this weekend, go and check out Assiniboine Park Zoo. I think I might actually go check it out - those baby pandas are pretty much too cute for words and I don't know if I have been to zoo since it was free all the time. This is of course why I don't really think I like the zoo, I was forced to go all the time because my sister liked it, and it was free, so I kind of grew to hate the zoo; perhaps it's time to give it one more go.

Monday, September 19, 2011

It's my birthday - what can I get for free?

This post will serve as both a mini-rant and a genuine post. Being a Winnipegger, I of course love free things. However, as someone who has spent years working in the service industry, I hate people who just want free stuff because it's their birthday. I mean, really, it should be your mom that gets something free - she's the one who had a tough day xx years ago. As a server, there is almost nothing that you dread more than a squeal coming from the table and someone saying "like, omg, it's his birthday, do you guys like do anything for birthdays???!!" Assuming it's someone middle aged, the omg and like can be omitted, but the vibe is the same. The more the table expects you to do for them is directly related to what they are likely to tip. For example, the table that wants you to dress up and play some silly character that's part of a running joke (this really happened to me, and yes, I went along because in theory it should have paid off well for me) and sing/dance/give free everything will tip 7-10% if you're lucky. The table that quietly celebrates a birthday complete with cards/presents etc. but never specifically tells the server that it's someones birthday - probably more in the range of 15-20%. Yes Winnipeg, 15-20%. Get over it. That is what it's supposed to be. Not 10%. However the longer version of this rant is for another post.

So, tomorrow I celebrate being 29 with yet another year of experience (although, 23 was my favourite year so I prefer to pretend I'm holding there) and I'll be darned if I can think of where to get me some free birthday goodies. Of course all the chain restaurants will do something - Montana's would make me wear the cootie infested moose horns and sing and give me some sort of dessert if memory serves, CRApplebee's would also make their poor servers sing and bring me dessert, Old Spaghetti Factory same deal. Tony Roma's is slightly more clever, they give you a card to come back for a free appetizer on your NEXT visit, and The Keg, my general exception to my I hate chain restaurant rule, would give me a slice of their fantastic Billy Miner Pie. If I was in North Dakota I could visit every Manitobans favourite quasi-Mexican restaurant, Paradiso. Paradiso gets points from a server standpoint for only providing free dinner on the actual day of your birthday, ID required - I don't know if you've noticed, but on Friday/Saturday night at a chain restaurants it's EVERYONE'S birthday.... coincidence? Not likely.

One of my absolute favourite places in the city to nosh, fude, also does a free birthday dinner, but I keep putting off joining their VIP club thing (which you need to do) because my friends are all to cheap frugal practical cheap to ever want to eat there on a regular basis, so I always figure I won't get to take advantage of it. I seem to recall a few years ago that a car wash somewhere in the South End would give you a free car wash on your birthday, and I think Dutch Maid did free ice cream.

It seems to me that years ago there were a lot more places that offered something free on your birthday, maybe I'm wrong, please comment if you know of one that I have missed, or a favourite from days gone by. In any case, tomorrow, I'll be the one opening presents (hopefully) with a great group of friends who unless they wish for death, will not dare mention my birthday to the server. If that establishment offers something for birthday folk and the server takes it upon his or herself to provide it - so be it (and a bigger tip).

So what is the moral of this post? Well, basically if there is free stuff out there because it's your birthday, obviously take advantage of it, after all, it would almost be wrong as a Winnipegger not to; however, don't be obnoxious about it, take your free stuff with no singing and dancing (the staff will appreciate it, you're not 7 years old after all) and tip appropriately and we can all get along :) onto some pre-birthday Bailiey's....

Friday, September 9, 2011

Art, irony, or both?

Sometimes, when you are trying to think of a good topic for a post, one just presents itself for you. I sure am grateful for camera phones - it makes it a easier not to pass up moments like this.

Perhaps someone will use it for this weekends Giveaway Weekend September 2011? I know I will be scouring the city for more crap treasures to add to my collection(s). Remember, if you come across any free arborite tables, pick 'em up for me ;)

Please be sure to get out and enjoy what will probably be the last super-duper-extra-fantastic weekend of the year weather wise! Seriously, 30 degrees in September?? LOVE IT!!!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Sofa King many things I could say about this...

Let's start with kudos for the juvenile joke in the name - I amuse easily, so points for that. If you do not have the sense of humour of a 13 year old*, say the title of my blog post reeeeeeeeeeal fast. However, you would think that the Sofa King, would sell, oh, I don't know.... sofas? The sign went up on this Selkirk building a few months ago and a bit of busy work seemed to happen, but now all has grinded to a halt.

Selkirk Avenue could certainly use some real storefront retail businesses, and a furniture store would be an alright addition I guess. I mean, there's Gill's in the old ice cream place on Salter just south of Selkirk and still two side by side furniture places on Main (the old Kern-Hill store and the space next to it, incidentally owned by the same people as Sofa King, based on the website address) so we don't really need another one, but I suppose at least it's not a social service agency.  Windows and doors (as the Sofa King claims to sell)? Well, since the majority of the population in the immediate neighbourhood are renters, I don't know how useful that is either.

Do you know what I wish for on Selkirk Ave? Sofa King many other things besides another storage space for a business that has an amusingly inaccurate website. No really, go to - it is a far cry from the reality of their retail space on Main. I think they spent Sofa King much money on the website that depicts a furniture store that exists only in their mind that they are Sofa King broke that they don't have much money for Sofa King's castle on Selkirk. I'd be Sofa King mad if I were the Sofa King.

Oh, one last thing and then I'm Sofa King done this post, it's the long weekend and I have things to do, people to see (ok, not really, but it sounds better than saying I'm repainting my rental). I'm Sofa King confused as to why if the Sofa King is a window and door place that they have broken old windows. Just saying.

*Note to readers: Winnipeg Girl is not actually a 13 year old boy who spends all of his time looking on the internet for dick and fart jokes, she just seems that way today.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

This just (not) in...

Well, Picnic in the Park seems to have been very well attended, I didn't hear visitor counts but the line for the free food (samosas, pork on a bun, sauerkraut perishke, apples and bannock) was as long indicating a good turn out. Locals were in luck because there was also an event just up the road at Mountain and McGregor hosted by the Manitoba Metis Federation (or so I believe) so they had their choice of family events.

Two events stand out from the time I spent at Picnic, neither of which made the news. The first, which actually happened later, is the type of even less likely to make the news, but was indicative of the aftermath of what was a very active "cheque day" here in the North End (I also wonder if cheque day played a role in the incident on Garfield). For those of you scratching your heads as to what cheque could possibly cause an entire neighbourhood to change dynamic, it's the same one you quite possibly got, the Child Tax Benefit (I think that's it's real name - I always think of it by its colloquial name, Baby Bonus Cheque). Unfortunately, when this cheque comes out in the North End, in particular in summer, the place actually resembles the place that suburbanites think exists all the time. Cheques that are intended to cover the extra costs associated with raising children all too frequently end up being spent on alcohol and other intoxicants. This is certainly not to say that this is the case with all North End families, however, like any stereotype, the roots stem from actual events, and a few bad apples definitely spoil the bunch.

Since this cheque day fell on a Friday, in summer, it was was bound to be more terrifying exciting eventful than some of the others. A friend who has been enumerating here in the neighbourhood stopped earlier in the day than usual because things were getting rowdy earlier than usual, the sirens more prolific throughout the night than usual, and the North End seems to have had more than its fair share of stories in the crime section. As a side note to that - this summer has been the most calm in years, or so it seems - even a glance at the headlines throughout this summer has had most of the crime happening in other places, refreshing for a change!

So back to my original story - there was an incident at Picnic involving a knife and a fight of some sort, which is a shame because it's a family event. I wasn't witness to the fight but I would be surprised if the participants didn't still have some of the effects from some imbibing from Friday night.  The other story, which I'm extremely surprised doesn't seem to have hit the news at all, was a dramatic river rescue. Okay, I've never seen another river rescue so I don't know if it was any more or less dramatic than usual but it seems that it should get the dramatic adjective.

Just around 830 Saturday morning, while we were setting things up for the Picnic, there was shouting coming from the direction of the Redwood Bridge. As we all know, shouting in these parts is fairly par for the course, so we didn't think too much of it. A few minutes later, sirens could be heard, ending at the bridge. Thinking that perhaps there was a fight or maybe someone threatening to jump, we continued about our business.  Next thing we knew, a guy came running down the river path with the police in hot pursuit. Then they passed him.  Confused as to what the situation was, we headed down to the river bank.  That's when we could see the head and waving arms and the guy we thought was being chased shouting to the river victim that help was on the way, to just hang on.

The police were nothing short of spectacular in their efforts to rescue the man, I was particularly impressed by the way they didn't hesitate to commandeer the rowboat attached to the docked MS River Rouge (man do my posts tie together nicely!) and attempt to row to save the man. As a spoiler (but a happy one), the man was rescued, so I can then comment on some of the amusing scenes that unfolded with the boys in blue. The officers that jumped in the rowboat looked nothing short of comical in their attempt to coordinate how exactly to row a boat and two of the officers who scrambled along the riverbank lost (and found) items off their belts and I couldn't help but think of those pesky taser cartridges. Another onlooker said that an officer fell in the water trying to get in the rowboat but I must've missed that.

So as the officers tried to row out to the man, who I was told by another man on scene who had run down the river path as well (and I believe was the person to call 911) that he had been in the water from at least Burrows, so didn't end up in the drink by the Redwood bridge after all. It was absolutely incredible how quickly the current moved and how far the man drifted in such a short amount of time.  Ultimately he was rescued (or at least certainly seemed to be - it was too far out at that point to see exactly what was going on) by a what looked like a police motorboat.

It strikes me as so odd that this didn't hit the news, not even as a blip; so here on my humble little blog I will give the shout out to the police officers involved for a job very well done, and despite my amusement at their attempt to row a boat (I'm thinking that the motorboat would have eventually had to "rescue" them as well, that's one heck of a strong current) they were nothing short of heroic in their attempts to save the life of a man who ended up in the river. I suppose we will all just have to guess at the rest of the details, like how and where he ended up in there in the first place.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Cheap river tour, Picnic in the Park

Well, we all know Winnipeg Girl is a fan of things that are cheap, or even better, free! I present you with both. Thanks to poor advertising done by the MS River Rouge (and people looking for the Paddlewheel Queen, which no longer exists) it seems from the stats that I am the go to place for information river tours. So, may I (not me of course) offer you - half price weekday river tours! I'm a generous sort. Click here to go to the Swarm Jam site. You might as well, you were looking for their hours anyway. Oh, coupons, how I love thee.

As for FREE! check out Picnic in the Park this Saturday at St. John's Park. It starts at 11 and there is entertainment throughout the afternoon, and even better, FREE food! Although, probably best not to get me started on the hundreds and hundreds of water and juice bottles that will be used. I will most certainly be at Picnic in the Park, since it's a hop skip and a jump from my place. I might actually walk there. Crazy talk, I know.

For my dear suburban readers, St. John's Park is the park on Main St. just north of Redwood Ave, and next to the Ukrainian-Orthodox Holy Trinity Cathedral. The park is way bigger than it looks from Main St. and actually quite a little treasure.

As a random coincidence note, this park is also roughly where you catch the River Rouge (but the coupon is only good for weekdays)
See you there!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Sensationalism in the media? No way!

The FreeP is doing a multi-part story on just how dangerous the streets of Winnipeg can be, "Walking and cycling can be deadly - as more of us hike and bike will the death toll rise?" While I don't disagree with the sentiments that there can be many deadly issues with cars and bikes and people (see a good blog post by One Man Committee here as well), my beef is with their stats.

Now, buried in the article in today's FreeP is the fact that "Other times, pedestrians are jaywalking, intoxicated or not paying attention." Now, the "death toll" (such an ominous sounding label) for this year stands at 4 people, and when I read their list of what these incidents were, two immediately rang bells for being unusual incidents. The most recent one, in June, was the unfortunate event of a presumed street person falling under the rear tires of a delivery truck, no charges were laid against the driver. In April, a man lying in the middle of Redwood Ave at 4am was hit by a fire truck when it did not have time to see the body because of a vehicle travelling in front of it. I was unable to find a news article to confirm it but it was believed that the man was heavily intoxicated. Now, those are two of the four deadly crashes with pedestrians on the roads of Winnipeg, and somehow their deaths don't make me fear being a pedestrian. The same goes for anytime someone is hit while playing Frogger to get across the road.

I absolutely think that Winnipeg drivers need to pay more attention while driving, and I have of course had my moments as well, although One Man Committee would be please to hear that I am generally awesome when it comes to pedestrians at yield lanes. Although equally important to drivers paying more attention is for cyclists and pedestrians themselves to pay more attention. It may be well and good that they were in the right and that it was totally the fault of the vehicle, but if you're dead your gloating opportunities are limited. Things that they need to remember:
  • Vehicles can't stop immediately just because you pushed the crosswalk button, make eye contact with the drivers before you start to cross the road, and pause to make sure that all lanes are clear as you cross each one.
  • Don't hang out at the crosswalk and talk with your friends by the sign, because the drivers that are courteous and slow down for you to cross will just get irritated that you aren't wanting to and may be less likely to slow down next time.
  • Cyclists using the sidewalk (which I personally am okay with, more on that in a second) should dismount to cross intersections or should bloody well keep an eye out for cars making turns - they may have looked to see if any pedestrians were coming but if you're still on your bike you are coming up faster than they were looking for obstacles.
  • When you're riding your bike on the sidewalk, remember that although cars are supposed to stop before the sidewalk, they rarely do. This is particularly true with cars exiting back lanes. Yes, they are supposed to stop, but see above for how if you're dead that it doesn't do you much good to be right.
  • Oh, and since being an idiot still gets you into the stats, don't pass out in the middle of the road, don't try to "fake out" drivers by pretending you're springing out in front of them (had that happen the other day), jaywalk with common sense understanding that you are doing something that the car cannot predict.
So, I think I've mentioned this before, but I really don't have a problem with bikes on the sidewalk, it generally seems like a safer option for them (especially if they follow my rules above). In general, I don't fear getting hit by car anymore than I fear getting shot here in the North End, although I would suspects it would actually be more likely to be hit. I am not in a gang so I will probably not get shot. I am a courteous pedestrian, yes there is such a thing, so I will probably not get hit by a car. Winnipeg's roadways were designed by someone who likely got their planning degree in a Crackerjack box, since we can't change them, we need to learn to all work together for the safety of all citizens.

*steps down from her soapbox*

Oh, and with the recent shootings in Transcona* does that make me more likely to get shot there or run over by a Firebird? ;) Just kidding Transcona, I love ya!

*I was very sourly informed by someone who feels the same way I do about how negative things get attributed to the North End and positive ones get their proper neighbourhood named, that this part of the city is NOT Transcona, but rather E.K., according to the assessment map it does seem to be classed as T-Cona, but I'm glad that other people have issues just like me!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Paddlewheel Queen, did you mean M.S. River Rouge?

It seems as though one of the highest traffic generating (besides of course h00kers) search terms to my blog is people looking to take a cruise down the Red and Assiniboine rivers on the Paddlewheel Queen and instead end up reading about the Paddlewheel restaurant at The Bay downtown.

So I decided to do some digging so I could give the people what they ask for. However, my internet sleuthing skills didn't turn up much more than what the others seem to have found. There is a facebook page that hasn't been updated in a long time with a no longer in use phone number and a dead website and an article from the FreeP that indicates they were to be no more. So I got to thinking, well, I know there is still one sightseeing boat in Winnipeg, perhaps they would be happy with that?

So here you are: you are no longer looking for the Paddlewheel Queen, you are looking for the M.S. River Rouge. You can find them here. It unfortunately also has a poorly update facebook page and poor customer service (when I emailed them to confirm their hours as their website gives off the impression that it's not up to date I was simply told to check their website, they didn't really give off a friendly helpful vibe, but I suppose that means the hours on the website are accurate?) but if you want to take Grandma on a cruise down the river then this is what you are probably looking for.

Since it docks near me in the North End, stop by and say hello and check out the Wolseley project!