Monday, June 29, 2009

Hanging out in the backyard

Cooling down with some melon

This weekend the weather was forecast to be wet so we decided to stick around and relax. We played soccer, worked on the garden, BBQ'd, and generally kicked back as we eased into the first weekend of summer '09.

Supper... summer time style

A small collage of game faces from Sara has she battled evil monsters on her NDS after supper on the back patio.

game faces

Here's another "chipmunk up a pipe" photo. These little guys aren't all that brilliant and love to "hide" up in eavestroughs when startled. Duh.

Here's the chippy pic from June '06.

I decided this year to grow some cilantro (aka coriander). I've already started using the cilantro in some of my meals and quickly learned that it has a very strong flavour fresh off the plant. Still good though. What I didn't realize is that cilantro produces tiny white flowers. Cool.


Friday, June 26, 2009

Grass Mountain Hobos and USWM

Photo by Kenmore.

Friday night and I'd just finished my annual visit to the Sparks Street's International Chicken-Rib Cook-off. Belly full, I was grinning out the bus window watching the pour souls try to dodge the downpour of a serious thunderstorm when I noticed a text message waiting for me. It was Kenmore saying that if I was still interested in heading up to the Black Sheep Inn for some music and beverages, he was in. I mulled it over a while (pulled pork sandwiches with a side of baked beans and a pint of Guinness can take a lot out of a man) but in the end I opted in.

The Grass Mountain Hobos
Photo by Kenmore.

I arrived at the Inn around 8 pm to find Kenmore settling in with a cold pint of Belle Gueule Originale. The opening act, The Grass Mountain Hobos, were up on stage testing out their sound levels. They're a bluegrass band from PEI - banjo, fiddle, dual acoustic guitars, mandolin, and tons of vocal harmonies. They proved to be a lively bunch and highly entertaining.

Felicity Hamer of USWM
Photo by Kenmore.

The United Steel Workers of Montreal hit the stage running. I'd seen them play here last March so I thought had a pretty good idea of what I was in for. Boy was I mistaken. Having only recently returned from a 15 show tour of Europe they were showing no signs of jet lag. The place was hopping.

Gern f. took hold of the audience from the opening note of Shot Tower and even managed to get them all up and standing for the encore with a little help from members of The Grass Mountain Hobos. All evening the breeze was blowing outside across the Gatineau River, while inside it was sticky muggy hot. So much so that at one point in the evening, Gern stepped down off the stage mid-song, grabbed a bottle of water from a nearby table, slapped an empty chair in the middle of the floor and then proceeded to douse himself. Yes, a complete re-enactment of the infamous Flashdance scene. Too funny. And there wasn't a soul there that didn't want to join in. Thankfully though Gern did spare us the dancing bit.

Photo by Kenmore.

All in all it was another night to remember at Le Mouton. Thanks Paul and thank you USWM. Cheers!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Long live the Prez

New chip flavors

The other day we hit the local Loblaws to pick up some of the items highlighted in their latest issue of "President’s Choice Insider’s Report". This particular issue is dedicated to the 1,000 tastes of Canada and showcases products inspired by cultures including Greek, Indian, Italian, Chinese, Mexican,... This trip I was focusing on the beef skewers, ribs, tzatziki, tandori chicken, various sauces, and well, you guessed it, the 12 new flavours of potato chips. These new bags even have their own resealable zip-lock. Wicked.

At 3 for $5, I had dropped 6 in my cart at the main entrance before even entering the actual store. It was pathetic. I then added 3 more bags once I had more items in the trolley that I could use as camouflage (honestly though, you really can't hide 9 bags of potato chips). By now my wife had refused to push the cart and soon wondered off to buy flowers telling me that she would meet me back at the van.

Oh well, they do go well with beer and it is summer time.

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Berlin Wall in Montreal

Berlin Wall

Stumbled across this piece of history while making my way from the underground parking to our room at the Hotel InterContinental.

Le Mur de Berlin à Montreal Berlin Wall 1961-1989

Sunday, June 21, 2009

OVO in Montreal

OVO, Cirque du Soleil

This weekend we took off for Montreal to spend a couple of days in the hustle and bustle of the Old Port. We also decided to check out Cirque du Soleil's latest show, OVO.

The Cirque show was very entertaining. We all enjoyed it immensely. Technically we were not allowed to take photos inside the big top so you'll just have to take my word that the show was a display of super-human powers and freakish agility.

OVO, Cirque du Soleil
OVO Too much fun
St. Patrick's Basilica (Montreal) St. Patrick's Basilica (Montreal)

This weekend was also a picture perfect weekend for weddings and wedding party photos. We spotted 12 brides in photo shoots at various locations across only a few blocks in Old Montreal. Some looked glamorous and some, ahhh, not so much.

Girl's stag night out
Wedding day IMG_2999 IMG_3016
IMG_3094 Smoking bride IMG_2980
Tiny bride
IMG_3090-2 IMG_3079

This last shot was just a funny angle I spotted while waiting for Paula to check out of Old Navy. Fun times.

Koodoo working the till at Old Navy

Friday, June 19, 2009

Gr.6 grad day

Grade 6 graduation

Graduating from Grade 6... it doesn't quite sound right mixing the word graduation and the number six together but then again when you think about it, it was 8 years in one education facility making it highly likely that this will be the longest stretch of learning they will receive under one roof. Not to mention that this time was spent largely with the same group of friends. Time will tell how many of these girls will remain BFFs but now is the chance to celebrate and enjoy the moment (parents included).

Grade 6 graduation
Sara with Mme. DeNardis and Ms. Dougan After (grade six) party

One of the classmates' parents threw a little - scratch that - big party for the kids at their home in Orchard Estates. The gathering was sponsored by Tim Hortons and Wendy's and they even hired a lifeguard to watch over our wee ones while they created chaos in the pool. There was even a full sized zip-line in the back for the kids to test their wings on. Good times.

PS: Is it just me, or do kids nowadays say "I love you" to their friends way more than we ever did when we were that age? I'm sure the parents are to blame but really, is it such a bad thing?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Mill of Kintail

Newborn dragonfly

The Mill of Kintail is a great location for a class field trip. The last time I was out here was two years ago nearly to the day (click here). They essentially run two sessions, one focuses on the stream and the other on the forests and meadows. We were slotted for the stream study in the morning which meant that our class would have first crack at finding crayfish, dragonfly nymphs, blood worms, and salamanders.

Class trip of '09

My team consisted of four kids (one of which was my daughter) and two mommies. We had a great time and the fact that we had perfect weather and no bugs didn't hurt any either. Here are some of the photos from the day...

Crayfish A walk in the meadow Salamander and stonefly nymph
Checking out the critters
Which one is having the most fun? IMG_2749 Soaker

Oh, and if that's not enough this is also the home of the museum for Dr. James Naismith the inventor of basketball in 1891. Yeah, how cool is that?

Mill of Kintail Dr. James Naismith, inventor of basketball

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Colin Linden at the Black Sheep

Colin Linden's guitars

Last night I headed out with Mikey and Rick to soak in yet another amazing night of music at the Black Sheep Inn in Wakefield, QC. This time it was Colin Linden hitting the stage. Colin is a very very busy man, on and off stage. He's played/collaborated with a long list of respected musicians over the years: Robert Plant, Alison Krauss, Bruce Cockburn, Tom Wilson, Stephen Fearing, Colin James, Sam Butler & The Blind Boys Of Alabama, T Bone Burnett, Paul Reddick, Merle Haggard, Keb' Mo', Lucinda Williams, Kathleen Edwards, Jane Siberry, and David Wilcox.

Saturday Colin hit the stage running and didn't stop until the the lights came back on at the end of the show. This man smokes on guitar and he is more than capable at the mic as he blended one song into the next switching with ease from country blues to ballad to rock and back to blues. Roll it all together with yet another guitar talent in the opening act (Joe Grass) and you have a recipe for a very entertaining night.

Colin Linden at the Black Sheep Inn

I can't say enough about this venue. I swear every time I've been here in the audience the artist of the night has made a comment saying how they absolutely love playing the Black Sheep. And why the hell not? Paul Symes has it all in Le Mouton Noir - a sweet location beside the Gatineau River - and if you're timing is right you'll catch the Wakefield Steam Train rolling by (when did it get back up and running?), a great sound system, an excellent selection of beverages (including some micro brews), a cozy intimate setting complete with a friendly dog that likes to roam from table to table, and most important of all, Paul has an amazing network of musicians that absolutely love to make the extra side trip. Thank you Paul.

Me and Colin Linden
Me and Colin Linden

Monday, June 08, 2009

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Snake hunting at Charleston Lake

Charleston Lake water snake

Late last week the kids and I decided to head out to Charleston Lake on Saturday for a one-nighter with the tent while mom went out to a stag with some of her co-workers. Come Friday night the weather forecast was still holding up so I loaded the canoe on the van and threw in some camping gear. By 8:30 Saturday morning we were on the road with only one quick stop at the grocery store for some last second essentials - toothpaste, hotdog buns, toilet paper, and Double Stuff Fudgee-Os (which by the way are only available in Canada - izn't dat veird?).

We arrived in good time and quickly scoured the campground's available sites. Weighing all the pros and cons (size, privacy, level ground for the tent, proximity to the field, comfort station and beach) we settled on site 203.

Charleston Lake Provincial Park

The rest of the weekend was spent searching for snakes and frogs, paddling around the nearby islands, building sand castles, more snake hunting, campfire tales, and cozy cuddling in the tent (it dropped down to 10°C, eh). We had an awesome trip. Oh and yes, we did catch a couple of snakes... well technically Sara did all the catching. One northern water snake as it slithered in the water along the shoreline and one garter snake as it huddled in the back of the vending machine for warmth.

Checking out the snake's colours
On the rocks Snake catchers Paddling on Charleston Lake
Piggy-back Late night with the garter snake Breakfast at Charleston
By the light of the glow sticks

Bring on summer.