Friday, February 29, 2008

I try to be nice...I do.

city's poor could suffer housing loss
Landlord predicts owner will sell or close rooming houses if upgrades are forced
Martha Tropea , Daily NewsPublished: Friday, February 29, 2008
A Nanaimo property owner worries that a new city initiative to tighten up on rooming house regulations will force people on to the street.Paul Saroya said he is selling off two or three of his homes because he knows it will cost too much for the necessary upgrades."I've been trying to get rid of (them) for the past four years," said Saroya of his properties, where at least 10 people are living.
The fire department recently handed over a list of about 50 houses to the city, detailing places they suspect of being rooming houses. The province estimates there could be as many as 150 in Nanaimo.There is currently no zoning for rooming houses in Nanaimo and many of them are unsafe and don't comply with fire regulations.Rooming houses are defined as those where renters occupy a single room and share cooking facilities, bathroom and common areas.Nanaimo social planner John Horn said many of the rooming houses are in the downtown core. Most are large, turn-of-the-century homes, cut up into different sections without building permits.The city says because rooming houses have gone unregulated for so long, some of the living conditions people are faced with are deplorable. Many of the people living in rooming houses are on social assistance.Saroya predicts most property owners will sell or decommission their units, instead of spending thousands on upgrades."If they spend $50,000, how are they going to charge $375 per month?" Saroya said."The owner will sell it and get rid of it," he said. "Who is it going to affect? The tenant."It's going to have a big-time effect. I don't know how (the city) is going to tackle that."Saroya said the city should encourage affordable housing development by waiving property taxes for up to five years."I think it's a good idea to give them a really good break," he said.

This article in today's paper bothers me on so many levels that I don't even know where to begin. First of all, the Council is cracking down on these derelict rooming houses NOW because in order to put in their wet housing project, all the i's must be dotted and t's crossed. Rooming houses must be legal if the city is going to pay people to get high in your neighbourhood. Hence the regulating of said rooming houses. Second of all, if it weren't for their thinly veiled motives(I am still waiting for an answer to my letter in this regards, Mayor and Council, City Social Planner), should ANY housing be unregulated? Just because someone is poor doesn't mean they should live in the condition that some of these rooming houses are in...and the neighbours should not be subjected to their deplorable conditions, either, without any power of recourse against the slumlords. Third, the landlord/property owner they are quoting? You all remember who that is, don't you? He owns this and this, as well as several other "notorious" properties in the southend. And as if this even touches on the fourth, the fifth or sixth things that irritate me about this article....but you all know how I can go on and on and on....and on....and on....
So this is the letter I wrote to the reporter....

Martha Tropea,
Most of this neighbourhood will stand on the street and applaud the day Paul Saroya sells his holdings and gets out. It couldn't happen soon enough.
His quotes make him sound like a decent sort of person, though he has preyed on his tenants for years, as well as on Nanaimo. He is no friend of the poor, no friend of the homeowners here, and no friend to Nanaimo.
He has been threatening in manner, in actions and in with his words in more than one occurance with neighbours here, and with his own tenants.
His properties are disgracefully unkempt and, in all likelihood, dangerously unsafe.
We have to use the Nuisance ByLaws on more than one of his properties in order to have Mr. Saroya even maintain the most minimal of standards. He doesn't provide outside rubbish bins so his tenants' garbage just collects on the side of building, feeding rats, raccoons, feral cats and other pests and spreading over the street in the wind.
The front stairs on one of his rooming house properties are falling apart, with nothing left of the railings or hand support and he does nothing to address it.
He was nearly thrown in jail by the City for his refusal to install fire safety measures in that same building.
Many of his properties are, or have been recently, crackhouses. Everyone in this neighbourhood has had the displeasure of dealing with open drug dealing, open drug use, fights, threats, etc. from his properties at one time or another...mostly all the time.
If setting a minimal decent standard of living is what it takes to rid the neighbourhood of the likes of Paul Saroya, then I say, let the people live in decent standards. Is that so wrong?


Thursday, February 28, 2008

Smile and say cheese....

The challenge has been made...the Photo Challenge, that is. CindyDianne and I are having a challenge, but it's open to everyone because it's about a season and not about a place. Our challenge is "Spring. " We have one your photos NEXT Friday(March 7th) and show us all what Spring is like where you are, how it makes you feel, what you look for, what you may be looking at instead...come on, join us! Pretty please? With a milkbone on top?
Walking Eem-er yesterday morning, I heard siren after siren. At Nob Hill Park which overlooks downtown, I saw this plume of black smoke rise over the marina. Since I was already out walking and I already had my camera, I went to be a looky-loo. Morbid, I know.
I missed the flames, which were apparently 30 feet high, but arrived in time to watch the last of the dousing efforts. Lots of firetrucks, rescue, an emergency boat on the water...lots of other looky-loos, too....thankfully, these two boats were on the end of the docks. It could have been much worse. I am sure the owners of these two boats might disagree with me, though.
Well, that's it for me...for now. It's too noisy to concentrate.
I have a city work crew outside jackhammering the road....moving the drains for the new curbs, I think.
Later, then.
It's so relaxing...NOT.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Win, Lose or Draw?

The flickers in Nob Hill Park are getting pretty used to me and my camera in the mornings. Sadly, so are other things...less pretty things. This morning as I was leaving the park, I saw three crackheads coming straight for the park from methadone I turned around and marched myself and Eem-er right back into the park and right up to where the addicts usually go to get high...I got there first!!! Then, two more neighbours with two more dogs showed up...and then Dukey and his mom arrived. We all just meandered around the park, back and forth and up and down, letting the dogs play and sniff and explore to their furry hearts' content. The crackheads tried to wait us out but the crack was just itching to be smoked.
So they just crossed the street to this little patch of grass outside a yard where there were three little kids just coming home from somewhere and smoked it there in full view of everyone...and then just headed off downtown, unconcerned with their actions or ours.
So I ask you, is that a win, a loss or a draw? Yeah, they didn't get the park today, but it didn't really feel much like victory, either.

Monday, February 25, 2008

The Festival of Sugar

The 8th Annual Maple Sugar Festival arrived and departed over the weekend. Thank goodness it comes but once a year and stays but two or three days...thank the maple sugary goodness. There is plenty to see packed into this tiny package...lots of live music, visual artists, textile artists, clowns, balloon-animal-makers, etc. I really look forward to seeing Frenchie the Clown each year, but I didn't see him this year. Merde.

And there are ice scultptors, too. Michael really enjoyed watching these guys create their short-lived art...I think it was the allure of power tools. It's a guy thing.

The art I appreciated is short-lived, too. The food artists were there....chutneys and jams and ice creams and pickled things and spiced things and mulled things, food galore, in every fruit or vegetable imaginable. GLORIOUS. And of course, the sugar. The maple sugar...everywhere.

Maple sugar syrup on your pancakes, on your sausages, in your baked beans, glazing your ham...sigh. Maple candy, maple fudge, maple biscuits with maple icing...pardon my drool, you guys.

MMMMMmmmmmmaple butter spread.....oh my sugary goodness. Life can be sweet, but not as sweet as this. And somewhere between maple syrup and maple butter comes the Sweetest Perfection of all and it is called maple toffee by most. Divine Intervention, is what I call it. Proof that the Universe loves us...loves me, anyway. I don't know about the rest of you.

A confection made by boiling maple sap past the point where it would form maple syrup but not so long that it becomes maple butter or maple sugar. It is part of traditional culture in Quebec and northern New England. In both Qu├ębec and Northern New England, it is poured onto the snow and then lifted either with a small wooden fork or a metal dinner fork. Here, they used tongue depressors, but who cares?????? Just GIMME GIMME GIMME!!!!

Here in B.C. , this gives new meaning to "rollin' one." At least I can appreciate this one.

Oh my goodness.....I am drooling now just looking at this photo. Thank goodness it is only available here once a year(twice for me cuz I go back again the next day just for this every year). So, okay, I am gonna go now....make some toast and butter it with a mapley spread....
MMMMMMMMMMMmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmapley goodness.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

a love that is meant to be

Romance....alive and well.

Friday, February 22, 2008


Eem-er doesn't want to spend another moment in the house on a warm sunny February day. We're outta here. So, take care, enjoy your weekend....and go for walkies! Right now...go on!
Talk to you all later?

Anyone here in Nanaimo going here this weekend? Maybe we'll see you there?!?

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Always someone marches brave....

I am seeing kd, here.
Row 10, seats.
June 12.
Sweet. Broke, but sweet.
Yeah, baby.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Yeah, um, Hello?

To whoever keeps calling and calling and calling my phone...the caller i.d. says Blocked Number. Or Private Number. Or No Data. I am not going to answer you. Give up now....or leave a dang message. If it is the comment. That is all.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

trying to look up

So, trying the past couple days to not look at the hookers coming back to roost in our neighbourhood, on our corners...soon enough, their dealers will follow. So much for the big clean-up...and perhaps the Red Zone. It's hard though, to not see the predators's hard to believe that this is the Vision of Nanaimo that is being built. This is what it seems to be, anyway. It's hard to look away but if I don't, I'll drown in it. Walk the dog to Nob Hill Park and look at the Flickers and the Robins and the Ravens(who don't like their photo taken) instead of the crackheads(who also don't like their photo taken) on the hill, instead of the broken wine bottle spreading over the grass, instead of the "whistling" crack dealer(like the pied piper or something)'s car parked over there. I just can't look at it today. Not today.
Today I can't pick up one more piece of litter, take down one more plate number, tackle one more issue. We all just want to have normal days down here, too. Uncomplicated. Easy. You know, I don't mean EVERY day would be uncomplicated and easy...I am a realist. Life has it's trials...but do we have to do THIS every day?
We would like to be able to sit out and enjoy the enormous gift of warm sunshine in the middle of February, the same as anyone living in the north end...

So today, I am not that car idling outside my window for some reason....who is he waiting for? Damn. I looked.
I am not looking to see who is yelling in the alley. Not today.

Today, I am gathering my furry friends and heading out to look for more birds. Look up look up look up.
Today, I am, to the best of my meager ablity, tuning out the riff raff and tuning in to the warm rays of the glorious gifts of a gorgeous,warm February sun...

and feathers. Because, after all....
Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune--without the words,
And never stops at all,
And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.
I've heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.
(Emily Dickinson, Hope)

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Skid Row, Nanaimo

So I wrote a long tirade last night...deleted. If you read it, sorry.
I am just so angry that repeatedly every agency, whether it be city or social or health related, privately or publicly funded or paid by our tax dollars, lies to us.
Blatant lies to our faces or glaring omissions of facts.
Or simply ignore our questions(VIHA, City Social Planner, I mean you, in particular). Do not respond to correspondence. Leave us out of the planning of services that will directly and PROFOUNDLY affect US...since none of you actually live in the places you assault.
The new by-laws from Mayor and Council that allow social services to go in without a zoning meeting means that now we have NO SAY whatsoever. None. Kiss your voice goodbye. And guess where VIHA wants their new drop-in centre, needle exchange, crackpipe hand out station? And guess where the 7-10 Club plans to go? And the projected 10-unit wet housing from our city social planner? And guess where Mayor and Council is going to let them go?!?
All within two blocks of the Salvation Army Walmart Style Super Centre....cuz that's about the only place the new zoning bylaws affect. Go figure. We found out all of this about the same week that the city offered us curbs. Smoke and mirrors. Smoke and mirrors.
Despite spending our tax dollars on several different studies(tens of thousands of city tax dollars per study, mind you) that have repeatedly all said one thing...that concentrating social services DOES NOT WORK, it seems that is what they are bound and determined to do it anyway. You know, cuz it has worked so well in places like Skid Row and Vancouver's Downtown Lower Eastside. Huge, glaring examples, time and time again, city after city, of what not to do disregarded in favour of the same old non-working plan. There is not one original idea, not one plan that sees beyond the next five minutes, not one agency that is empathetic to the suffering of hard-working, tax-paying, home-owning people in the south end who are overwhelmed with the bad choices of the SOCIAL SERVICE INDUSTRY here in Nanaimo....time and again. VIHA has taken no responsibility for the dismal running of the drop-in centre that has been pushed out of three seperate leases in two years.
Now, they just plan on buying a place(and even though they said in the paper just yesterday that they don't have the money for it YET, they did in fact make an offer to purchase a place so we count another lie down in their column, whether blatant or by ommission can be your call).
And, after the city has dumped 80+ million and counting of your tax dollars, Nanaimo, into "revitalizing" the downtown core, to the detriment of nearly every other tax related service(roads, lifeguards, maintennance, etc), every single high impact(and countless low impact) social services will be right there, too. Congratulations. Oh, and then, let's raise your property taxes.
The southend now rivals the northend in tax rates and property assessments and yet the northend does not have to deal with any needle exchanges, drop-in centres, wet housing, crack-pipes handout stations, yaddayadda....why is that?

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Would you?

Valentine, won't you be my Valentine?
And introduce your heart to mine and be my Valentine?
Summertime, we could run and play like summertime
With storybooks and nursery rhymes, so be my Valentine.
Candy heart, if anyone could you could have a candy heart.
You're the sweetest of all sweethearts.
Won't you give your heart to me?
Can't you see I love you valentine?
Won't you be my Valentine?
And won't you share your space with mine and be my Valentine?
Candy heart, if anyone could...
(Valentine, Willie Nelson)

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Woot woot!!!!

Check out that looker!!!!! Best in show, Baby! As if there could be any doubt!!!! Woot woot! Good boy, Uno. Good boy.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Pay it forward...

I did it. I couldn't resist. Must have present!!! From Texas. From CindyDianne So, here's the deal...

The Game:

Everyone who has a blog is welcome to participate.

The first three people to leave a comment on my blog will receive a gift from me in the next 365 days. The only condition is that those people will have to do the same on their blogs.

Pay it Forward!

The gifts will be silly and I promise to have them sent out within the month.
Forget that 365 days'll be in the next month, k?

On an entirely different note, since changing my template, I cannot link to things while posting now. Why is that? Anyone? It is most irritating. You know I love to link, right? I mean c'mon, this template thing was supposed to be better..but when I load a picture, I don't see it, only html, until I publish...I don't KNOW what my post looks like til I publish AND no links? So, anyone able to help me with that?

Monday, February 11, 2008

it's Monday again....

and grey again...and raining again...and gloomy...and blah...
First round is on me.
Anyone? Anyone?
Four Dinners??? C'mon, surely you wouldn't turn down an offer like that?
See you all tomorrow.

Friday, February 08, 2008

smoke and mirrors

LOOK AT THIS!!!! Look over here. TA DA....the city is giving us proper curbs and grass....if they come up with the money that they already had once for this project and spent elsewhere....yay, yay for us...curbs and grass and maybe even trees....look, look over here....

But wait...what? What is that?
Is that a ten unit wet housing that may be going in across the street from two properties that combined have been crack houses how many times? That's where the City Social Planner has been eyeing to put in the wet house? No matter how many studies the city has paid for that have recommended spreading out social services? No matter that study after study after study warns against acts that lead to the 'ghetto-ization" of any one part of the community? Really? Huh. Go figure.

NO! Don't look over there, don't look.... No, don't look behind that curtain...don't look behind....ah damn.

So VIHA is looking to open a big box service kinda like the No Hope Centre, er, sorry, the New Hope Centre...where they will provide a drop-in centre and yet another needle exchange....and more...with money pilfered from other programs that are already running under efficiency...Instead of running three programs well, they would rather run six programs badly. The drop-in centre has been closed three time here in two years...why is that? Could it be all the problems it caused to this neighbourhood all three times? Helping pave the way towards the open air drug market that we endured until just a few months ago? Could it be because properties it was housed in received damage and theft? Could it be because they just can't run this damn program?
And just where do you think it will be? This next time? Hmmmn?
Hey, but look over here at these curbs and grass and trees you might get if we find the money for them...that we already had once and spent somewhere else...just look at that, will you? Ah, c'mon, look over here, dammit.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Why I declare....

That looks Springlike, doesn't it?

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

may you find some comfort there

You are pulled from the wreckage
Of your silent reverie
You're in the arms of the angel
May you find some comfort there Let me be empty
And weightless and maybe
I'll find some peace tonight

Its easier to believe in this sweet madness oh
This glorious sadness that brings me to my knees
( Angel Sarah McLachlan)

Red Cross

As a U.S. citizen I am mightily sickened by the news today. Some 40 tornadoes touched down in one day, killing at least 50 men, women and children in five states, leaving countless families homeless, parents jobless, students without schools, lives wounded, bereft, grieving, in shock... and every news station had Super Tuesday as the lead story. Isn't that a crying shame?

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Eem-er's MeMe not for me

So I was tagged for a meme....well, actually not me. Eem-er was tagged. By Katy. Well, actually by Mr. Milo. She is supposed to tell you six random things about herself that you might not know. Since she can't type, I guess that means it is up to me...which is difficult because really, what haven't I told you about this dog? But, here we is for Mr. Milo, after all! He's a good boy.
1. Her first name was Sylvan. In rescue at Beagle Paws, they renamed her Charlotte. We couldn't figure out a name for her the first week we had her...I didn't want the name Charlotte. Michael picked Emma. We liked had been my first choice...but the longer she was with us, the more we found that somehow Emma just doesn't fit her...and she has become Eem-er to most who know her, although officially her name is still Emma.
2. She has a fake Kennel Club tattoo in her ear.
3. Her favorite toys are the lids off our soy milk containers...or better yet, off a Propel bottle... or rocks. We don't bother buying her real toys anymore. She just ignores them.
4. She will never get enough love to make up for whatever happened to her before. She'll always be a bit "damaged." Damn people, anyway.
5. She refuses to go for a walk in the rain. I have to drag her out the door. She plants her feet and digs in. Every time.
6. When she meets you the first time, she will attempt to put her nose on your eyeball.
No tagging from me. If you want to tell us six random things about yourself, well, you go right on and do so!!!! I won't stop ya!!!

Monday, February 04, 2008

Monday, Monday

Another Update*******Frickin' Hiccups.
Update*** Later in the day, suffering long - lasting hiccups...I am exhausted which makes me more emotional than normal but still...just watched the Passionate Eye about J. K. Rowling. They brought her back to to the single flat she lived in while writing and trying to sell the first Harry Potter...She cried when she saw the full series of her own books on the new occupant's bookshelves. I imagine that there is nothing nearly so emotional as that going to happen in my life...and that's alright. It really could be cuz I am friggin' exhausted from hiccups. And considering all the overly emotional shit that HAS happened in my life? Just as well. Maybe I should go get a shot or something. Honestly. This is exhausting. Hic. Hic. Hic.....damnit.Know what I mean?

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Who do I thank?!?

I know that I originally downloaded this recipe for Yucatan Lime Chicken Soup from somebody on Blogger....and have tweaked it some for my own taste....
Just made it(for the hundredth time?) tonight for a small dinner party....and I have never gotten so many compliments. Yeah, deservedly, I admit it. It is GOOD stuff.
So, wherever it came from....THANK YOU! I wish I could remember who it came from specifically.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Name somebody on your "Must See Live" list


Vancouver, BC
Date: 6.12.08
City: Vancouver, BC
Event: k d lang
Centre for the Performing Arts

w/ special guest Dustin O'Halloran

sale Saturday, Feb. 23rd, 10:00a

Map Link

Anyone wanna come, too?