Summer so far has been a lot of fun. Dave and I just got back from some weeks in Vancouver, where we saw his sister get married. It was a beautiful wedding with a truly inspired theme -- summer camp wedding! Katie and Charlie rented a YMCA summer camp outside of Vancouver, and had a weekend-long extravaganza of campfires, camp activities, and a gorgeous wedding right in the middle. There was even an icebreaker/talent show the first night, in which I handily made an ass of myself singing a blues song I co-wrote. Ah well, it's all for family, right? ;-) Other acts included a recitation of all prime numbers between 1-100, several other original song performances, Highland dancing, and a comedic clarinet/oboe duo. The show finale was two friends of Katies' singing "Business Time," inserting Katie and Charlies' names in various places in the song. It was positively hysterical.
During the weekend there was canoeing, archery, and even a high-ropes course (which my mum mastered! Go mum!!). A highlight for me was actually getting a chance to spend time with Dave's extended family, especially his cousins. The last time we all met, it was my own wedding, and so I was a tad preoccupied and barely got a chance to talk to anyone. It's great to finally get to know them a bit. Another highlight was dad's arrival -- he had been chairing meetings in Ottawa that morning, and flew Ottawa-Toronto, Toronto-Vancouver, Vancouver-seaplane to Seschelt, and despite this long journey, still partied hard until 2am Vancouver time! That's dedication, man.
Also, while in Vancouver, I decided to take the plunge and get laser eye surgery. It's a big change from before; I used to not be able to see anything outside of an arm's-length, but now I see… well, everything. The first time I really noticed the difference was on Canada Day, where I saw the tens of thousands of red-and-white-clad people packed throughout downtown, as far as the eye can see in every direction. It occurred to me I wasn't wearing contacts… and it was both weird and wonderful.
I'd worn glasses and contacts since age 9, so no longer needing these things is a huge adjustment for me. It's even been hard to get rid of my glasses. I went to a local glasses shop, asked if they took donations of old glasses. The clerk pointed to a box for the Lions Club. I looked at my purse, which contained my old glasses… then looked at the box… then smiled, thanked the clerk, and left with my glasses still in my purse. I just couldn't do it yet.
Other than that, Ottawa has been buzzing with activity lately. Canada Day was a blast; we started at a friends' BBQ, then moved on to the concert and fireworks. The main headliner was Blue Rodeo, but as luck would have it, the alternate headliner was Hawksley Workman, who I adore. Being not so crowded, we were able to get some good spots, and Hawksley entertained us with his whimsical stories and unexpected medleys (veering into Destinys' Child hits, for example).
More recently, this past week has been the Ottawa Bluesfest (note, not actually entirely dedicated to blues music). I've been going almost every night, and have seen gems such as The Tragically Hip, The Black Crowes, James Taylor, Les Breastfeeders, Matt Good, and many more. Here are the highlights thus far:
Best Show: Michael Franti and Spearhead with their super-positive political reggae. The crowd was jumping and singing along, and this was by far the most compelling draw of the night… despite this fairly obscure band playing at the exact same timeslot as THREE huge headliners.
Biggest Surprise: Snoop Dogg. Yes, I saw Snoop Dogg, and he was great. Not a lot of songs, but he must have written the textbook on crowd involvement. It was a fantastic time. Even the crowd itself was entertaining -- I was standing next to a youngish mum and her 11-year-old son, the latter of whom was mortified with the former, especially as she enthusiastically sang along with Snoops' vulgar lyrics. (Hee hee, people watching is fun!).
Weirdest Moment: Boz Scaggs. I approach the stage, and see this red-faced, jowl-y man in a collared white shirt and dark pants. His hair is silver in an almost-mullet, whiter on the top, and his moustache is grey. My first thought -- "What the hell is my dad doing there?!?!" The resemblance is truly uncanny, especially at a distance..
Biggest Disappointment: CBC darlings, Winnipeg rock band The Weakerthans. The show itself was great, except for (I think) a poor choice in songs. In their encore, they picked their most controversial song, and had the Ottawan crowd gleefully screaming along, "I HATE WINNIPEG!!" City choice aside, why end a show on a hating note like that?
Biggest Schadenfreude Moment: Fergie's show was late, and her vocals were nearly inaudible over the pre-recorded backing vocals. Even the peripheral stuff (the dancing, the outfits, the stage itself) were not great. Then she even ended early. So generally, the show was terrible, but at least it made me feel better about my own un-stellar talent show performance weeks earlier. ;-)
The Bluesfest will continue until the end of this weekend, and tonight Dave and I will be seeing Metric. This edgy Montreal rock band is known to put on a great show, and I already know a lot of their music, which I love. I can hardly wait!
(Also, note that all of these photos come courtesy of friends, facebook, or flickr... thanks, all!)