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November 2008
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January 2009

Business owner fights city over definition of art

I had this article referenced on my graffiti news blog, and had discussed it a few weeks ago but thought I'd expand on it some more.

 CBC News had the following online on Nov 5/08, along with a video:

Business owner fights city over removal of spray paint.  Restaurateur says it's art, but inspectors deemed it graffiti.

I'll quote part of tthe item, in case the link gets archived by CBC:

A downtown Ottawa business owner says the City of Ottawa removed spray-painted art from the outside of his restaurant and then sent him a bill for graffiti removal.

Luc Lapointe, owner of Hot Peppers Thai restaurant at Somerset and Lyon streets, said Wednesday that he wants the city to put the art back on the building and he will take legal action against the city if it doesn't drop an $800 fine that was added to his tax bill for not paying for graffiti cleanup.

The large, white, spray-painted bubble letters were on the wall when he bought the building three years ago, he said. He never removed them as he thought they were artistic and inoffensive.

"Our restaurant, we try to be expressive and be younger," he said.

But the spray paint was gone in July when he returned from a speaking tour in Mexico. A month later, he received a bill from the city. Lapointe said he's upset that no one at the city talked to him before removing the spray paint.

"At least we could have had the discussion — is this art? Is this graffiti?" he said. "For them to come and remove this from my building without my permission, without even taking the time to call me — I'm upset. I think it's unfair."

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Chicken and rats and buses

I've recently sent in a few opinion pieces to the Citizen's Letters to the Editor, I'll include them below.

  • Chickens and Rats
- There was a story in the Ottawa Citizen Dec 29 about raising chickens in urban areas – starting with The Glebe, of course, a trendy downtown area. Not that I want to get my own chickens (yet), but just to clarify -  the article says in part   “Cumberland Councillor Rob Jellett, who is chairman of the rural affairs committee, says he's not so sure the experiment would work. He notes that there were problems in Halifax with a chicken coop in a residential area that drew rats”.

  • In fact, if you look at the original reports on various Halifax news sites, while there were a few concerns at a meeting that a chicken coop could attract rats, there doesn’t seem to be anything in the news saying it actually had attracted them to the Edinburgh Street location.  Rats could also be in an area for bowls of dog food left outside or someone’s scattered garbage or an abandoned house.  And, as a busy port city, I’m sure there are more serious rat problems down near the Halifax docks.

    If we were to allow chickens here, we would need to add some guidelines for things like fencing, noise, cleanliness, and put in place a chicken patrol. And of course, this is yet another opportunity for city licensing, to get us closer to a balanced budget. This would also stimulate the local economy as entrepreneurs design yet another line of pet accessories  – little knitted vests for winter, prefab coops from a local artisans co-op, special organic feed blends, designer containers for kitchen scraps.

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Merry Christmas 2008

Best wishes to all today. If you celebrate Christmas - a Merry Christmas. If not - have a nice day anyways. It's a pretty quiet day here, mom is still snoring upstairs, kids elsewhere, no Globe and Mail at the door, no presents, no stockings. I'm listening to some great downloads by CPI. Not the usual Christmas music - which is a good thing. Enjoying a huge mug of coffee - which may explain my ramblings. Last Sunday night was our Christmas Eve, so that my daughter and her fiance could come over before they headed off to his folks on Tuesday, down in Waterloo. My son and daughter-in-law came over with little (15 month) Noah. He headed right for his favorite toy location - the pots and pans cupboard. I cleared out the glass casseroles and cast iron Le Creuset pot and threw him some wooden spoons and small plastic containers. His idea of heaven, and great entertainment for his great-grandmother.  My daughter arrived later on with the tourtiere she had made, mom had slowly but methodically shredded and chopped a salad.

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Early Christmas - 08

We typically do presents and a nice family dinner at my place Christmas Eve, a tradition started after I became a single parent. 2008_12_21_10aChristmas Day the kids go to their mom's in the morning to do prezzies and then I show up there in the afternoon to join them for dinner, with some wine and a dish. Of food, not a date. For the first couple of years their mother wanted them for both days, so we did Christmas Eve a week early. We were all OK with that, just another new tradition, but is was nice to get back to the real date. I think we may have done it early once or twice after that too, to fit in various holiday plans, as our extended families grew.

So this year, as my daughter and her fiance were going to go to Waterloo for Christmas,  we did Christmas Eve the week before (last night), with tourtiere, eggnog, stockings, and presents. Grandma was there too this year, surprisingly.  it gets to be harder on her (and the whole support team behind her) every time she travels but she 2008_12_21_13a gathered her strength for yet another Christmas. She and I didn't do a lot, we talked, read the papers, ate, napped, talked, ate - she gets tired out easily, but she did get lots of time with my kids and little Noah. Actually, since she's 4'11'' and shrinking still, he's not that much smaller than her.   And of course we had my grandson Noah here - we just hid the calendar so he wouldn't know the date. Noah is more mobile and inquisitive this Christmas, challenging and amusing the new parents with his toddling about and exploring,  but he still 2008_12_21_16 enjoys the wrapping as much as he does the presents. And typically he can get "stuck" on one present, quite content to play with that one and ignore everyone else pleading for him to open theirs. Not that he needed many gifts- he has no shortage of toys. In fact, I've ended up with extras here, along with a few other boxes. the "empty nest" only refers to the kids leaving, not all their stuff. Another parent and grandparent role I guess, keeping treasures for a while - was likely in the small print in the guide book. Keeping them not only for personal nostalgia, but for the kids, they may want some of those things as they grow up. I remember that when my mother downsized to an apartment I was also downsizing to University residence, so a lot of mementos either got chucked out by her, or I had no room so had to throw them out myself. Back to dinner, we had the 2008_12_21_29ausual Christmas eve fare, but after presents this time so that the pie could cook. Was a little late for Noah, I'd forgotten that when kids get hungry it's NOW. But a few munchies (grandparents can spoil all they want, remember?) and he made it fine. I even cleared off the dining room table, for the first time in months, so we could all have a spot. Noah was happy to be able to sit up at the table and stuff himself with tourtiere. He did make an honest effort to try the plate and cutlery route but found fingers much more effective. I think his dad - or maybe me - had encouraged him to not worry about being formal at the dinner. Another grandparent role encouraging positive thinking, creativity and experimentation, as food not only is nourishing it can also be fun. Not that kids need much encouraging I guess. No food fights so far, I don't want to get into too much trouble.