The Most Canadian Moment: A Tragically Hip Story

In the winter of 1999 the Tragically Hip toured to promote Phantom Power. I was living in Vancouver and a friend suggested that we go to Seattle to see them at a small venue rather than the stadium they were playing in BC. (Google tells me the concert was March 30 at the Paramount Theatre; the set list is even online, which kind of boggles my mind…)   At 22 we felt terribly smart, sophisticated and cool and to be going to see the Hip in a small theatre.

This was over 15 years ago and my memories of the concert are hazy (other than that it was excellent). What stands out the most was the break. The theatre was full of other Canadians who had travelled to Seattle for the chance to see their favourite band in a smaller venue than they’d ever play at home. At the break people were getting restless and all of a sudden some guys with Canada flag capes… you know the type, they come out on Canada Day and during Olympic gold metal hockey games… these guys are beer fuelled, loud and VERY patriotic. A chant of “hip, hip hip… “ started to grow and soon the cape dudes were standing up, and running down the aisles, capes fluttering like patriotic superheroes, working up the crowd until we all stood up and burst into… O Canada. We sang the entire thing. With gusto.

Looking back on it now, the whole thing seems incredibly obnoxious. But at the time, it was a wonderful experience to be surrounded by proud Canadians, listening to a band that was “ours” and feeling that sense of being part of something. Listening to Phantom Power evokes strong nostalgia for that winter in Vancouver. We were on the edge of adulthood, living a life filled with new freedoms and few responsibilities. We didn’t think twice about driving to another country to see a rock band who sang unapologetically about home.

I attended that concert with my now-husband. When we heard the news about Gord Downie this week he said (along with countless people across the country), “we should go see them”. Alas our summer holidays are already booked and we will be away for all of the Ontario dates. Maybe it’s for the best though, maybe our Hip concert experience should remain in that little theatre in the US with the Canada Flag cape guys, the spontaneous national anthem and the memory of one of our “most Canadian moments” – which wasn’t even in Canada. Thanks Hip.

Advertisements

Welcome to Canada!

In 2001, my husband and I back-backed around Syria, and on more than one occasion, when we were walking through little towns, the kids would run along beside us and yell “Welcome to Syria!”. It was the only thing they knew how to say in English. I remember thinking at the time, that if they came to Canada they might not have as warm a welcome (yes, even back then, pre-9-11).

Syria made a strong impression on us as one of the friendliest places we visited and my time there did a lot to make me look at my own unconscious prejudices. Surprise, surprise, people from Syria were not that different than people from Canada, they were just trying to make a living and raise their families.

I often wonder what happened to some of the people we met when we were there and how the war affected them. There was a “Falafal Man” in Damasacus who we visited every day for lunch time falafals and a man in Palmyra (I think) who invited us to his house for supper. When we got there we found out that neither he, nor his wife really spoke any English. It was an awkward but memorable night with us trying to use our phrase book to have a conversation.

So it was lovely to see the huge “Welcome to Canada” banner on the front page of the Toronto Star today and see our country being so ready to welcome Syrians to our country. I have several friends who are part of groups working to privately sponsor families and I am so glad that we elected a government who does not see a boogey man in every closet but sees people in crisis who need a chance for a new life in a peaceful country.

So “Welcome to Canada!” new Syrians! I hope you are able to find peace, heal your wounds and prosper in our country and I’m thrilled that my thoughts on how Syrians would be received if they came to my country from all those years ago have today been proven wrong.

The Long Melt – 2015

It seems like forever since the snow was here, but I wanted to add my visual chronicle of “the long melt” for the 3rd year in a row: you can see 2013 and 2014 if you want to compare

Although this winter was less snowy than previous winters (really, check out 2013 to see some snow), the snow did linger as March was cool as was April and the winter had been cold, and really this is Ottawa, we are just ready for spring when it comes, and it never seems to come fast enough. And we never seem to remember that it just takes as long as it takes for the snow to all melt.  As usual I’ll start the photos on March 21, the last day of winter/first day of spring and continue until all the snow in the back yard was gone.  This year was pretty typical of the last 3 yrs with the snow all melted by about April 19th.

March 21, 2015 - !st Day of Spring - When will the snow melt? (Deck)

March 21, 2015 – !st Day of Spring – When will the snow melt? (Deck)

March 30, 2105

March 30, 2105

April 3, 2015

April 3, 2015

April 4, 2015

April 4, 2015 (snowfall! a small setback)

IMG_6874

April 7, 2015

April 8, 2015

April 8, 2015

April 11, 2015

April 11, 2015

April 12, 2015

April 12, 2015

April 13, 2105 - SNOW FREE ON THE DECK!

April 13, 2105 – SNOW FREE ON THE DECK!

Now for the Garden Melt.. it takes a little bit longer to finish.

April 21, 2015 - 1st Day of Spring - Garden

April 21, 2015 – 1st Day of Spring – Garden

April 30, 2015

April 27, 2015

April 30, 2015

April 30, 2015

April 3, 2015

April 3, 2015

April 4, 2015

April 4, 2015 (snowfall! a small setback)

April 7, 2015

April 7, 2015

April 8, 2015

April 8, 2015

April 11, 2015

April 11, 2015

April 12, 2015

April 12, 2015

April 13, 2015

April 13, 2015

April 17, 2015

April 17, 2015

April 19, 2015.  Snow free day in 2013, but not quite in 2015.

April 19, 2015. Snow free day in 2013, but not quite in 2015.

April 21, 2015.  All the snow is finally gone from the back yard.  exactly one month after spring started.

April 21, 2015. All the snow is finally gone from the back yard. exactly one month after spring started.

February Photo Challenge : Faceless Portrait

I have always liked taking photos of people from behind and walking away.  Most of my photos from this month are variations on that theme. I like how the photos of Adrian and his two friends portray a sense of their friendships.  They aren’t aware that I’m taking their photo, so the pictures are quite natural.

Can I reach it?  Fraser learns to walk and gets into everything.

Can I reach it? Fraser learns to walk and gets into everything.

Reading with Uncle Paul

Reading with Uncle Paul

Looking at the ice sculptures

Looking at the ice sculptures

Winter makes for many faceless portraits.

Winter makes for many faceless portraits.

Friendship (I think this is my favourite of the bunch)

Friendship (I think this is my favourite of the bunch)

And the moment is done...

And the moment is done…

January Photo Challenge: Up Close and Far Away

January was my month to choose a theme, and I wanted to make sure it was something very broad that could be photographed indoors as well as out, since I find that in January I often don’t get outside with my camera because it’s too cold.  That being said, I did get out on the Rideau Canal one afternoon when it was just below zero and possible to take off my mittens long enough to snap a few shots.  The rest of my month’s work took place around our “Lego World” that is constantly in a state of construction and flux in the attic.  Much of the building is still completed by Mommy and Daddy and other adults who happen to be around, but it’s an activity that we all enjoy and Adrian loves to play with all of the machines and buildings that we create.  I also discovered that it’s very hard to get good close-ups of Lego, at least using the lens that I have.  I never quite got the lighting and the focus just right…  (and for the record, whoever says that modern Lego is not creative has not been to our house!)

What's going on in Lego World?  Let's take a closer look...

What’s going on in Lego World? Let’s take a closer look…

Looks like the paramendics are out for a date.

Looks like the paramedics are out for a date.

Santa? is that you?  What are you doing on the roof of the blacksmith's shop?

Santa? is that you? What are you doing on the roof of the blacksmith’s shop?  Oh, just chasing that bad guy?  Ok, go get him…

There was a disaster and an earthquake flattened the city.  But the people rebuilt... newer and better coffee shops, bigger hat shops and more spaceships.

There was a disaster and an earthquake flattened the city. But the people rebuilt… newer and better coffee shops, bigger hat shops and more spaceships.

Let's have a cup of tea.

Let’s have a cup of tea.

And now for something completely different: Here are my photos from the Canal. I was relatively pleased with these.

Close Up

Up close…

Close Up

…up close…

And Far Away

…and far away (the Bridge into Patterson Creek)

Close Up

Up close…

and far away

…and far away

close up

Up close (Looking at the Chateau, under the Somerset Bridge)…

and far away.

…and far away (Looking down the Canal at the Somerset Bridge and the Chateau)

And a little bit of HDR for the last few shots: It’s always fun to play around with HDR to try to make mediocre images a little bit exciting.

close up

Up close (University of Ottawa)…

and far away (University of Ottawa)

…and far away (University of Ottawa)

Close up (Bank Street Bridge)

Up close (Bank Street Bridge)…

and far away (Bank Street Bridge)

…and far away (Bank Street Bridge)

And two more, that I just remembered from the beginning of January, we had an ice storm to start off 2015.

Far away... (after the ice storm)

Far away… (after the ice storm)

...up close (after the ice storm)

…up close (after the ice storm)

December Photo Challenge: Gifts

This was an easy theme to photograph although as usual, my photos are more about the stories and less about the technical mastery of the subjects.  My 4 year old is at a perfect age for Christmas and was excited about everything, giving and receiving.  These photos center around him giving and getting presents on Christmas day.  But the baby is also a bit of a gift, especially after some pregnancy challenges before he came along.  So his first Christmas was certainly a celebration of him as well.

DSC_0107

This is Fraser’s “official” 10 month photo taken on December 5th (or maybe 6th).  He is quite a gift, a fun, happy, healthy boy, who keeps us on our toes and amused most of the time.

 

Wow! What is all this stuff?!

Wow! What is all this stuff?!

I think that Fraser was amazed at Mt. Present on Christmas morning.  We had both branches of the family celebrating with us, so there were a lot of gifts under our tree.  Fraser made a bee-line for them and just climbed on up! (this is the first photo in a series).

 

What could it be?

What could it be?

The 4 yr old is not that great at smiling on command yet, but I love this photo of him with his big present from Santa.  (Santa is a terrible wrapper and next year will have to do a better job!)   – The gift from Santa was ordered online and arrived at noon on Christmas eve.  Santa’s helpers were relieved!

Super Hero Comic book

Super Hero Comic book

We want to encourage the 4 yr old to enjoy giving as well as receiving, so encouraged him to give some gifts.  He (With help from dad) made a comic book for his comic book loving uncle.  It didn’t really have a plot, but was all kinds of awesome like a story by someone who’s 4 can only be.  Uncle Paul was thrilled of course!

And for Grandpa, a squash!

And for Grandpa, a squash!

You can bet that Grandpa was surprised to receive a squash from Adrian!  My mom had said that Grandpa really liked squash in an attempt to get Adrian to eat some the week before.  That didn’t work, but he did decide that the perfect gift for Grandpa would be a squash.  He picked it out himself at the grocery store.  Grandpa was suitably pleased.

 

Optimus Prime!

Optimus Prime!

Optimus Prime was the gift from Santa and was just as appreciated as we’d hoped it would be.  The Iron Man costume (purchased on sale the week after Hallowe’en was also a hit.)

 

Advent Calendar

Advent Calendar

My mother-in-law is an amazing quilter and made us this beautiful advent calendar. I look forward to filling it up for the boys every year.  Adrian was so thrilled and amazed by it at the beginning of December that he changed where his chair went in the dining room so that he could look at the Advent Calendar the entire time he was eating his meals.  We were able to take a beautiful video of him telling his Granny how he “loved it so much”.

to Mommy with Love...

to Mommy with Love…

I also got a gift from Adrian who apparently looked at everything in the dollar store and picked this out for me because it was the most beautiful thing in the store.  It’s a star for the top of our tree (which doesn’t currently have a proper tree topper).  He was so excited about the present and managed to keep it a secret from me for 4 days. Needless to say I love it, in all its ridiculousness and yes, next year, it will be on the top of our Christmas tree and for many years to come I imagine!

November Photo Challenge: City Scape

The November photo challenge was to take photos of city scapes.  Ottawa has some very iconic and famous city scape views.  Alas I did not take any photos of these this month.  It was not a big camera month for me, but I did manage to get out a couple times in a couple different cities.

City scape of Blah.

City scape of Blah.

Here is the city at it’s worst. A beautiful castle-like museum which is completely blocked from view by a highway. Granted on the other side of the road you can see it much better. But it’s a bit sad to see just the top of it peaking over the highway.

Nature Museum with Bus

Nature Museum with Bus

The reality of the mordern city.

Along the Canal

Along the Canal

Ottawa has a more interesting city scape when you take a walk or ride along the canal. These houses have a beautiful view and look nice as well.

Aberdeen Pavillion

Aberdeen Pavilion

This building is part of a newly re-developed part of the city and has been beautifully restored. I’m so glad that the city was able to save it, since no one builds beautiful buildings like this these days.

Old and New

Old and New

We spent a weekend in Toronto, but with kids in tow etc. I wasn’t able to concentrate on the photos that much. I did manage to snap a couple though.

Big City

Big City Skyline

DSC_0002

Iconic Toronto!