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!