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.

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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.

Clutter: Photo Challenge

I seem to have missed the March photo challenge.  I dutifully took a few photos with the theme in mind and then didn’t make the time to post them. All of a sudden it’s almost May…  yikes!

The theme for March was “Clutter”. I did photograph some of the disarray around my house (having a new baby leads to lots of clutter) – but I think I’ll just share this photo, taken at a cottage we stayed at with friends for a weekend.  I loved the Whisky and the sippy cup lined up beside each other…  Ahhhh life with kids.

Cabin clutter.  We went to a cabin with friends for a weekend.  The results, the natural juxtaposition of whisky and sippy cups.

Cabin clutter. We went to a cabin with friends for a weekend. The results, the natural juxtaposition of whisky and sippy cups.

Thankful

Every month I participate in a photo challenge with a group of (mostly) strangers.  We try to inspire each other to take better photos and to look at the world in a creative way.  This month, the challenge was “Thankfulness”.  Normally I post my photos to my Flickr steam, but this month, since there is a story to go with each photo, I decided that this would be a better platform to share just a few of the things that I’m thankful for and the images that go with them.

October was a good month to think about why I’m thankful.  Not only because of Thanksgiving, which is always a reason to reflect, but also, I think, because of the turning of the seasons and for other more personal reasons, which I’ll outline below.  Except for the last shot I didn’t take any photos this month specifically based on the theme, but when I looked through my photos from the past month a few stood out as especially illustrative of reasons why I’m thankful.

boyswithlog

I’m thankful for little boys, and the moments like these. They found this big log in the forest and figured out how to work together to pick it up. I love the pure joy on their faces and how entirely excited they were that they managed to actually lift it and carry it along. I’m also thankful for the warm fall days.  There are warm days in the fall that are just perfection.  After the heat of summer it’s not so stifling, but the sun still has warmth, which is all the more welcome because we usually think that every warm day could be the last.  I’m also thankful that I was able to get out to enjoy so many of the warm days this fall.  Gatineau Park is only a 20 minute drive away.

leaves

Every fall I’m thankful for the beautiful colour of the leaves. Fall is such a special time of year (especially in Ottawa) because of the colours.  Also – coloured leaves are fun to photograph – so it’s always a great time of year to get out for a few walks with the camera.

Chateau

I’m thankful for grand visions – The grand vision that led to the creation of this country, the grand vision to build a beautiful hotel that looks like a castle in the middle of nowhere.  I think that beautiful buildings can enhance our quality of life and it’s a shame that more things aren’t built with this standard of beauty in mind.   Although there are perhaps many reasons to not spend money on things like the Chateau Laurier and the Rideau Canal (and certainly many reasons like workers rights and health and safety that would cause these things to cost much more if they were built today), I’m glad they were built.  I’m also thankful to live in Ottawa, which has pockets of beauty like this that aren’t hard to find amidst a lot of urban ugliness and uninspired architecture and planning.

family

I’m thankful for every one of the people in this picture – my wonderful immediate family.  Every one of them is kind, generous, warm, caring, dependable and someone who I really enjoy spending time with. I feel very thankful to have a family that I really like.

Plaid

For various reasons (which I will explain in my final photo)- I was very thankful to be able to take part in Ottawa’s “Plaid Parade” today – it was a group bike ride through Ottawa with a big crowd of people wearing plaid. Fun! (it’s supposed to be a Canadian take on the “Tweed” rides that happen in other places. The organizers figure that not as many people in Canada have tweed… but everyone has some plaid, somewhere in their wardrobe.) (if you have two minutes you should watch the video clip at the top of that link of last year’s ride… It’s beautifully done – How could you not want to participate?!). It has been a few years since I’ve taken part in any sort of group ride – I’d forgotten how fun it can be… It was a great afternoon. I brought my old camera… so didn’t get any wonderful photos. But enjoyed the experience.

selfie

Finally – I am thankful to be alive! Exactly a year ago I had a life-threatening medical emergency that required a trip to hospital in an ambulance and emergency surgery a few hours later. I couldn’t attend the plaid ride last year as I had just had the surgery a week prior and was certainly in no shape to get on a bicycle. So it was slightly symbolic for me to attend the ride this year – pretty much a year to the day after having the surgery. The photo is a cheesy selfie taken on my old camera, but the important thing is that I’m in it and I’m still here. And for that I AM very thankful.

The long melt

This post pretty much speaks for itself. It just details the long, slow melt of this year’s snow from our back deck from the first day of spring until the 18th of April, when it was finally all gone.  It has been a long, cold spring and even as  I’m writing this (on April 25th) – it seems as if winter still doesn’t want to let go (it snowed yesterday!). — well I took a while to get this posted.  It now being May 13!  We’ve had a week of summer even (that likely explains the lack of blogging).  The garden is coming along nicely. I’ll add a current photo to the end if I can.

February 27th (ish) - the snow is up to the top of the table.

February 27th (ish) – the snow is up to the top of the table and filling in most of the deck.

On the first day of spring, the snow is still up to the top of the table... and then the slow melt starts.

On the first day of spring, the snow is still up to the top of the table… and then the slow melt starts.

Easter Weekend.  Very snowy.

Easter Weekend. Very snowy.

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oh - we were so close on April 10th and then on the 11th we had another snow storm.

Oh – we were so close on April 11th (previous photos)  and then on the 12th we had another snow storm!

Luckily that snow did not stick around for long.

Luckily that snow did not stick around for long.

April 20th - we finally have a snow free back yard.

April 20th – we finally have a snow free back yard.

Adventures with a two year old.

We spent a week at my parent’s place because the Man is going to a conference nearby.  It was a good chance to visit friends in this part of the province as well as have a little holiday.  One morning, the Boy and I went for an “adventure” out at our cottage.  He enjoys the outdoors and we want to encourage that.  In the city we don’t get out to the forest as often as we might, so I thought we’d try going for a little hike. I wasn’t sure if the Boy would want to walk as far as I thought he should (and really hoped that I wouldn’t end up carrying him home) – but we was a great little hiker.  Hopefully we can encourage him to walk some more and slowly be able to stop having to use the stroller.

Every adventure should start with a good collection of sticks.  Luckily there were lots to be found as we started out on our walk.

Every adventure should start with a good collection of sticks. Luckily there were lots to be found as we started out on our walk.

Mommy - look at my sticks, look at my sticks mommy.  It is very important that mommy sees all the sticks and acknowledges how many are being carried.

“Mommy – look at my sticks, look at my sticks mommy.”  It is very important that mommy sees all the sticks and acknowledges how many are being carried.

Oh look - Canada's Economic Action Plan is hard at work out here in the middle of the woods.  Thank goodness for this useful sign, otherwise, I might not have known all the great things my government is doing.

Oh look – Canada’s Economic Action Plan is hard at work out here in the middle of the woods. Thank goodness for this useful sign, otherwise, I might not have known all the great things my government is doing.

We arrived at the other side of the lake and traded the sticks (which we threw into the lake) for rocks (which we threw into the lake).

We arrived at the other side of the lake (where my cousins have a cottage) and traded the sticks (which we threw into the lake) for rocks (which we threw into the lake).

Bloop!

Bloop!

Someone had carefully set stones on the top of all the posts.  I hope they weren't important because we threw them all into the water.

One of my cousins had carefully set stones on the top of all the posts. I hope they weren’t important because we threw them all into the water.

After a while we went back.  At the top of the hill there was a patch of snow.  Still.

After a while we went back. At the top of the hill there was a patch of snow. Still.

We very carefully walked around the snow. We didn't want to get our feet too wet, and it was pretty slippery.

We very carefully walked around the snow. It was pretty slippery.

Then we walked back down the other side of the "Mountain"...

Then we very carefully walked back down the other side of the “Mountain” through the tree tunnel…

And threw sticks off of all the docks between there and our cottage.  The water is pretty high right now.  Some of the docks were just about underwater.

…And threw sticks off of all the docks between there and our cottage. The water is pretty high right now. Some of the docks were just about underwater.  I had to keep a close eye on the Boy to make sure that he didn’t charge into the water in order to go to the very end of the dock. That would have ended very badly.

Last dock back at home.  Time to throw our last few sticks and then...

Last dock – back at Mom and Dad’s cottage. Time to throw our last few sticks and then…

...go and have a snack on the deck.

…go and have a rest and a snack on the deck.

It was a perfect adventure for a two year old and a fun way to spend the morning with the Boy. I should look for some short walks around home and check them out when we get back.  As long as there are sticks and something to poke with them, I think that we’d have a pretty good time.