Review: Volta (Cirque du Soleil)

For months I have seen some construction going on across the street from work at the new Zibi condo site.  We’re talking dynamite, we’re talking lots of dump trucks.  Turns out it not only was in preparation for the new Zibi condo site, but for the Cirque du Soleil production called Volta!

I decided to go to it as the big top tent kept staring at me every day I took a walk.

I have to say I was blown away by the event.  I can’t really remember if I had ever been to a Cirque du Soleil production before.  I don’t believe so.  I have a feeling I’ll be going back!  I’m not exactly sure why it was such a moving experience for me but I was inspired to write and record music again.  Granted, I need to find time to do so!  But it was good to feel that fire within my musical soul again.

I managed to nab some 25% off tickets and I have a feeling I know why.  My view of the screens were obstructed slightly.  However, I had amazing seats along an aisle with plenty of leg room and a great view of the stage so I think it’s well worth the price I paid.  There probably isn’t a bad seat in the house.

It’s truly amazing to see acrobats and dancers across the stage for a few hours.  I still can’t fully understand how someone can be so adept on a unicycle, or a BMX bike.  I’m watching the trapeze artists and am wondering “Where do they even practice a routine like this?”

I highly recommend everyone check out Volta (in Gatineau for another week and heading to Toronto next) and any other Cirque du Soleil production in the future!

 

Unlocked: Flight of stairs

Let the world know that as of 4:23PM on July 28, 2017, Sierra successfully navigated her first flight of stairs upwards!

She started out with one step, then back down.  Then one step, then back down.  Then about five steps, but then decided to come back down.  It was a riveting show of ‘will she or won’t she do it?’

In the end, she did it!  She got up half way and I figured she would head back down, but she just kept trekking up to the landing.  I also had left the gate open so she went up two extra steps and boom!  She’s in the kitchen!

Like any other champion, I smothered her with kisses which she denied.

Sierra’s 14th Month

All is well around these parts but it started out with a hiccup!

Our daycare provider’s mother unfortunately passed away so we had to make alternative arrangements for the month of July for Sierra.  I thought she was old enough to stay at home but Vero had other ideas.

Luckily, a hero emerged in the form of Danielle.  Gaetan, Danielle and Andreane were coming back from Portugal and Danielle offered to look after Sierra for a couple of weeks during July.  This was a gift sent from the Gods and while I understand that she had a great time getting to spend one-on-one time with Sierra, we benefited from this visit greatly and we thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you for helping us out.  It was great having her here and I liked it for other reasons other than the babysitting.  It was great to get to know Danielle outside of visits for a few days.  Once you’re in a house for weeks on end with a person, you need to not interrupt your own life.  So we watched some Star Trek while I was on the elliptical, we shared our common love for adventure games (wait until I get her into Gabriel Knight!) and we had fun going around town to see the Canada 150 events!  Merci encore Danielle!

Sierra has become a walking machine nowadays this past month.  She rarely falls down anymore.  It’s great to have a little person walking beside me down the path of life.  She’s also at a great point in her life where she can’t run full tilt down the driveway towards the road so I at least have a few minutes to grab her.  Why is it that kids seek out adventure down at the end of the driveway instead of closer to the house?  I can’t fault her for having an adventurer’s spirit!

As of writing this entry on July 28, 2017, she is now drinking 3.25% milk instead of formula.  She was intolerant/allergic to it when she was little so we stopped giving it to her completely. Around the one year mark it was suggested we try and introduce her to it again.  It started out with a 10%/90% split between milk and formula.  Then upwards and upwards to a milk only diet.  So far, so good…we haven’t seen any adverse reactions like we saw before (crying for hours on end, interesting things found in diapers) but we aren’t going to get our hopes up until a month after.  Andreane says things like intolerances/allergies may take awhile to rear their ugly head.  After that, I guess we will try products with soy in them!

Sierra likes going into the drawer with the pots and pans this month.

Sierra is, for the most part, a great kid in our opinion.  Everywhere we go we hear stories of how much she smiles.  We’re not sure if people are just saying that or she generally is on the upper echelons of the smile factor.  Every kid is different so I guess it’s better than a kid with a scowl.

Sierra likes running around the yard and is trying to figure out if she likes cold water from sprinklers and splash pads.  While she doesn’t cry around them, she doesn’t scream in delight either.

She likes taking rides in her car around the block and she LOVES the swing set and slide at the park.

Onto the pictures!

I’m not sure who is happier?  Gaetan, Danielle and Andreane arrived back from Portugal in fine spirits.  Gaetan was definitely better as his sciatic nerve wasn’t hurting as much as when he left the country.  The poor fellow even needed a wheelchair for part of the trip!

Sierra got a backpack from Portugal to carry her comic books around!

Andreane with her favourite niece.

Sierra with Grand-maman.  Danielle tried for two weeks for Sierra to say ‘grand-maman’.  She said them the moment Danielle left for Hearst!  (I am kidding.  She still has yet to say it).

It’s easier to win the lottery than to get a photo with all kids looking forwards.

Who’s her favourite guy in the world other than her Dad?  Note: this was the only time of Canada Day 150 that there was enough sun to go outside.  What a rainy day!  We had a bunch of people over and it was quite the loud party with us all stuck in the house!

The next day we decided to head down to the Mosaic Garden which had opened up in Gatineau.  We found a unicorn along the way!

I’ve travelled the world and have seen many great sights.  But I was blown away by this Mosaic Garden they set up for Canada 150.  I couldn’t believe some of the floral/plant sculptures they had created!  You must go see this.

On the way there, Danielle said something like “Oh, it’s nice to get out and just go visit a garden for a few minutes.”  A 45-minute line in the sun awaited us.  Luckily Sierra was in good spirits!

The RCMP were on our tail!

This fisherman had a nice catch!

The gentleman behind us was searching for gold.

The sculpture in this picture was donated by China in honour of Canada 150.

Joe Muffaraw!

This piece of art was the best at the garden.  The woman in green wasn’t that bad either!

Another view of the final sculpture.  This one literally took my breath away.  I felt I was in Middle-Earth.

Gardens need water and boy, did they get some water.  Torrential downpours came down on us on the walk back to the car!

Sierra eyeing up someone’s poutine at St-Albert Cheese Factory.

I think Sierra may take after her old man in terms of loving fruit.

Etienne, Andree and I enjoying the Ottawa river at lunch

She was getting the hang of walking.

Vero was somewhere in this Bluesfest crowd watching Pink on stage.  What a crowd!

Rob and Janice were kind enough to take care of Sierra while Vero and I went to Bluesfest for a few nights.  Sierra LOVED her time with them and she especially loved the trampoline!  Thanks again guys!  We definitely appreciated it.

Jenna and Sierra having fun.

Having fun at the park with Rob.

Vero had to take the third week of July off to take care of Sierra so I decided to take the Monday off and go check out this fry stand in Orleans that Jonathan had told us about.  It wasn’t bad!  Sierra enjoyed walking amongst the picnic tables trying to steal people’s fries.

I couldn’t resist the temptation of letting Sierra roam around the toy store.  She’s at an age where her attention span is the size of a mosquito so even if she cries when we took her away from this toy, she stopped three seconds later once seeing another one.

My work picnic lunch.  We got rained out a little bit, but our team managed to win the trivia challenge!  Go Team Stella!

Who doesn’t love how she tries to get into the basket?

Andree’s going away party.  That was a killer good day until the bill came and I realized our manager took the day off and I was acting manager along with Etienne. 🙂

Trying out the lifejacket before we headed to Calypso Water Park.

A big gang showed up at our place for a few days…Anne-Marie, Steve, Evan, Jenny and Kayley (Kayleigh?)!  It was a great party.

Evan showing off his Friday night dance moves.

I swear I have other photos from the weekend but I guess that’s it for now.  We made t-shirts of whatever design the kid wanted.  They thought it was the coolest thing ever.  Evan wanted to promote his new YouTube channel called EASS.  We also went on a scavenger hunt around the house which was great fun to set up!  We were really happy to have everyone up for a few days.

The fourth week of July had me look after Sierra.  On the Tuesday I headed up to Perth for lunch and hung out with Sierra’s two favourite people – Lynn and Sue!

We also enjoyed time at the park!

And rides around town!

And slides!

And visits with Ethan and Ellie!

Another month gone by and I’m pretty sure I’m missing quite a few pictures from Vero’s phone.  I’ll be updating this soon enough!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Milestone unlocked: 500 concerts

Our Lady Peace – Massey Hall in 2005.  I won tickets for Vero and I go down to Toronto!

A few years ago, I stumbled upon a cool website called setlist.fm which tracks concert setlists.  The really neat thing about it was that I could indicate whether I was at the concert or not and it would track my stats.  One summer I went through my box of concert stubs and entered any information I could think of; sometimes it was a simple click of the button ‘I WAS THERE’ or entering in the details of a concert that I clearly have a record of, but there is no record on the site.  Imagine a Wikipedia for concerts.

Matt Mays – Bluesfest 2006

While going to Bluesfest the other night, I realized that in the past week, I had surpassed the 500 concert mark!  Let’s be honest here, even though I keep every concert ticket stub known to man, there’s no way I have documented every live band I have ever seen.  There were tons of Fortune’s Hand concerts seen in the Heart and Crown but no documentation of those good times exist (well, except for the photos of those drunken nights!).  So when setlist.fm indicates that I have seen 500 shows, I take it with a grain of salt, but at the same time, if it’s a rough number, so be it!  It’s a great achievement that started back in 1996 with my first concert – The Smashing Pumpkins in Toronto, ON on September 14, 1996.

The Trews – Acoustic show at Carleton University 2006

Twenty years later, I’ve definitely hit the peak of concert going and now pick and choose which shows to go to.  This doesn’t mean that I’m stopping anytime soon, but I’ll choose the band I haven’t seen a whole lot over the band I have seen a whole lot.

Me playing at a charitable campaign thing at work in 2006 along with Shawn.

Here’s some interesting stats as of today and twenty years of concert going.  This post goes out to my good buddy Mike who was at most of those concerts with me!

New Year’s party with Mike’s dad Bruce.  I’m not entire sure what the name of the band was at this point, but he’s been playing with the same group of guys since high school.  Pretty impressive!

Arcade Fire – 2007 in Montreal.  The entire arena was general admission and Mike and I did not realize until we showed up!  Not cool for getting seats together!  Ha ha.

Name of Band                                   Number of times I’ve seen them

Sam Roberts Band                           19

Our Lady Peace                                 12

The Tea Party                                    9

The Trews                                           8

I Mother Earth                                  6

Pearl Jam                                            6

U2                                                          6

The Smashing Pumpkins              6

Theory of a Deadman                    6

Wide Mouth Mason                       6

Live                                                        5

Matt Mays                                          5

The Tragically Hip                            5

Metric                                                  5

Nickelback                                          5

Three Days Grace                            5

Finger Eleven                                    5

Wintersleep                                      4

Blue Rodeo                                        4

John Fogerty – 2007 at Bluesfest

After seeing this list, here’s some stray observations:

  • Seeing Sam Roberts Band 19 times seems a little incredible, but sure enough, after I perused the list, I can remember every concert. Good times have been had with this band!
  • The majority of the bands are Canadian which considering I live in Canada, makes a whole lot of sense.
  • While Pearl Jam is of my top 3 bands right now, it was a long time (2005!) before I got to see them live. So I have some catching up to do.
  • The Smashing Pumpkins haven’t been around my neck of the woods a whole lot but I’ve tried over the years to see them as much as possible.
  • It’s interesting to see some bands that just don’t exist any longer vs. newer bands that I just really love to see (like Wintersleep)

Thornley at Hope Volleyball 2008

Venues                                                                                Number of times in that venue

Scotiabank Place/Corel Center/CTC        74

Centre Bell/Molson                                       26

Capital Music Hall                                           21

Ottawa Civic Center/TD Place                    20

Barrymore’s                                                       19

Ottawa Congress Center                              12

Molson Ampitheatre                                     11

Bronson Center                                                7

National Arts Center                                      7

Air Canada Center                                           5

Parc Jean-Drapeau                                          4

Maple Leaf Gardens                                       4

Mavericks                                                           3

Centerpointe Theatre                                   3

Massey Hall                                                       3

Algonquin College Commons Theatre   2

 

This one is for my girl – Def Leppard in 2008 at the Scotiabank Place.

Observations:

  • Wow, that is a lot of arena priced beers being consumed!
  • Look at how many times the name of the Ottawa hockey arena has changed!
  • Barrymore’s was definitely one of the better venues to see a band. Capital Music Hall…not so much!

Live at Bluesfest -2009

Years of activity                                Number of times

1996                                       2

1997                                       4

1998                                       14

1999                                       12

2000                                       25

2001                                       8

2002                                       5

2003                                       21

2004                                       12

2005                                       29

2006                                       17

2007                                       22

2008                                       22

2009                                       54

2010                                       33

2011                                       29

2012                                       45

2013                                       27

2014                                       42

2015                                       50

2016                                       6

2017                                       14 (so far)

AC Lighning bolt DC – Ottawa 2009

Observations:

  • Live acts really started to show u in Ottawa from 2005 and onwards.
  • 2009 seems a little crazy with 54 concerts!  I must have been out more with Mike than I was with Vero that year!

 

Pearl Jam at the Molson Ampitheatre 2009

Festivals                                                                                               Number of times at the festival

Bluesfest                                                                                             11

HOPE Volleyball                                                                              6

Festival of Spring (this is also known as Tulip Festival)  4

Ottawa Folk Festival/CityFolk                                                    3

Osheaga                                                                                              2

CUPE Local 503 – Rock for Public Servants                            2

Summersault                                                                                     2

Ottawa Dragon Boat                                                                       1

 

Metallica at the Scotiabank Place in 2009

Observations:

  • Those are a lot of Bluesfest beers being consumed!
  • Man, I miss HOPE Volleyball. They had the best weather this year.
  • Folk festival is quickly overtaking Bluesfest for my favourite festival.

Roger Waters – Scotiabank Place in 2010

Random stats:

  • First concert: Technically Grant Lee Buffalo who opened for the Smashing Pumpkins on September 14, 1996 in Toronto.
  • First concert in Ottawa: The Tea Party at the Congress Center
  • First concert at Barrymore’s: The Gandharvas and Holly McNarland. I remember that concert specifically because I so afraid of being in the crowd that I sat up away from the floor section.  That was quickly changed later on.  I also remember having a ‘no beer policy’ as I wanted to take it all in with a sober mind.  That thought process changed over the years!
  • First concert at the Corel Center: Everclear and Our Lady Peace – January 16, 1998.
  • Last concert at Canadian Tire Center: Pearl Jam – May 8, 2016
  • Songs I’ve heard the most live: 4am, Clumsy and Superman’s Dead (all tied for 12 times heard), Brother Down (11 times)

Mike and I playing at the Legion – 2010

It’s important to note what I consider ‘a concert’, in terms of adding it to setlist.fm.  This especially applies to festivals.  If I have seen at least one song by a band, I mark it down.  It falls into the realm of “Hey, have you seen that band?”.  I don’t think Vero necessarily agrees with my methodology, but I’m sticking with it.  I don’t want to say “Ah, I never saw Delicate Steve because I only saw him play three tunes.”  It’s also important to note that my numbers are way off because in choosing the photos for this post, I stumbled upon a Matt Mays concert that I saw at Bluesfest but never marked it down!  Sweet!

U2 in Montreal – 2011

It’s been a good ride and while I may be taking a breather for now, I can’t wait for the day when Sierra says “Hey Dad, can you bring me to this concert?”

Let’s end it off with a legend…Paul McCartney in Montreal 2011.  That show brought me to tears at the end of it.  That’s the power of live music.  Here’s to another 500!

 

 

Review: Wide Mouth Mason and Muse at Bluesfest

*thanks to Nat for the photos of Muse!*

On Saturday, we dropped of Sierra with Rob, Janice and Jenna who were super nice to take her for a few evenings while we went off to Bluesfest.  Supposedly, she is the wonder child and the greatest kid to babysit.  Why does she not act this way when I’m around?  I am kidding, of course.

Heading out to Bluesfest sans kid…greatest Saturday of the summer?  Perhaps!

We managed to score a primo parking spot off of Somerset and headed down on this beautiful, beautiful summer day.  Let’s put this into perspective for those reading this as a historical record of July 14, 2017.  The rain in Ottawa (if not all of Canada?) has been ridiculous this summer.  In the past week, this is the only sunny day.  I feel bad for all of those going to Bluefest every day.  It was a wet one.  So we soaked in all the sun we could get today.

Decent crowd for 5pm!

Wide Mouth Mason was up first and they put on a great show.  I thought Gordie Johnson was still their touring bass player, but this for this time out, they had a new fellow on stage with them.  The band still has the chops and Shawn Verreault is a fantastic, fantastic guitar player.  For the last half of the set he was playing a slide guitar and he had three slides on his hand.  It was quite interesting to see.  I had never seen slide played that way before and now I’m wondering if that’s how slide guitar is played all the time and I just didn’t notice since it’s always on the horizontal?

Here’s a shot of him playing the slide.

I’m glad we caught the show as they had some great tunes being played, along with some cover songs of Prince (which Vero hilariously called Queen).

We met up Nat and Mel who were there for the night and we grabbed some Gabriels Pizza over near the Bluesville stage.  I ended up seeing my piano teacher Kelly and Sarah and they were waiting for a pizza to bring up to the front rail of the City stage as they had been camped there for six hours to get a good spot to see Muse!  I’m sure they had a fantastic time!

At the Bluesville stage, Vero and I hung around for a band called the Campbell Brothers as Shawn Verreault was coming out to jam with them.  We sat up in the bleacher section to give our feet a rest and I have to say that other than the fact that the Bluesville stage is a sweatbox of heat, it’s a cool environment with standing room in the front, lawnchairs in the middle and bleachers in the back to rest our feet.  Natalie and Clive ended up hanging out for a bit watching the band and then we toured the grounds together.  We did find Etienne for a whole five minutes and then I lost him for the rest of the night.  Sorry bro!

We checked out a band called Busty and the Bass on the Blacksheep stage for a few songs and then headed over for the main event…Muse!

 

Giant balls flying around during Starlight.

Muse started and never stopped once during the 2 hours they were up there!  It was an aural and visual experience to the nth degree.  Since they are not touring a specific album, we were treated to the greatest hits package which I am a fan of.  I loved how they had video cameras on their microphones so that the video screen would have these crazy closeups of them singing.  I loved how the bass guitar would just rip through you.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…I feel they are the modern age Queen.  They know all about spectacle while delivering songs that have fists pumping and vocal cords being shredded by the end of the night.

Quite the show!

Special thanks to the dudes in front of us smoking what could be classified as the biggest object holding marijuana that we have ever witnessed.  I’m pretty sure two guys needed to hold it to operate it.  Poor Melissa was getting smoked out downwind and had to move at one point.

They rocked so much that glass shattered!  Nah, that’s just confetti.

I would also love to point out that my favourite moment of any concert is when someone offers you a joint.  While I choose not to partake, it is an honour to be offered it.  It shows that you are being cool enough to the people around you that they feel you are worthy of partaking in this rock and roll ritual.  PLUS, I was offered twice so clearly, I was a-ok in everyone’s books around me.  Note: this sometimes is not the case with me dancing around and smoking people in the face with my elbow.  Once again Nat, I AM SO SORRY!  I hope there is no bruising.

This elbow got a little out of hand on Saturday night. 

Great night, no rain, a few beers and off home to find Sierra asleep and well!  Muse was my #1 pick for Bluesfest and they did not disappoint.  Too bad I couldn’t find a tour poster at the gig.  They were supposedly available on the rest of the tour so I guess the box of them didn’t show up to Ottawa.

Clearly I’m protecting Vero from hooligans.  Actually, I think we were trying to clap each other’s hands.  It worked out pretty well!

Poor Ryley was at our house as he was at Bluesfest earlier and someone sprained/stretched/tore? his ligaments in his knee.  He had to go to the first aid tent and be stretchered out of the fairgrounds.  He was in good spirits the next day and he was planning to head out again.

Good way to end a night.

 

Review: Headstones and Live at Bluesfest

While I don’t have the energy nor the time to go every night to Bluesfest, I can definitely handle a full-out weekend (ok, no I can’t and I smartly took Monday off as vacation to recoup my energy).  After work on Friday I went to Le Troquet for a few pints with my old manager Jean-Francois, along with Michael, Mina and Kelly.  Good times were had reminiscing and sampling their tasty St-Ambroise IPA.  Definitely better than the swill they serve at Bluesfest!

Mina dropped me off at Lebreton Flats and it was go time!

Is this seriously the phone number of this company?  Fantastic.

Mike tipped me off to this excellent rocking band from Kingston called The Tragically Hip…I mean, The Glorious Sons.  There was quite the crowd for them around 6:30pm.  Two thumbs for these guys.  I’m going to pick up their albums.

Next up were the Headstones.  Now, I can’t say I own an album, but I know a few tunes off the radio.  I was blown away by their energy on stage.  Hugh Dillon is quite the showman.  I had a good time catching these guys while waiting for people to show up.  Karilee, Andre, Mike, Melissa and Molly all trickled in during their set. 

So…word on the street is that we were expecting a little rain this night.  Nothing major, but it was a smart idea to bring a rain jacket.  Sidenote: I saw someone wearing some Doc Martin-looking rubber boots.  I love those things.  You look stylish wearing them and they keep your feet dry!  I need a pair.

Nabbed this off of Melissa’s FB page.  Good crew before getting rained out!

We headed over to watch Anderson Paak at the Claridge stage and a few songs in they said they had to get off the stage as a lightning storm was coming in.  This was news to us as there wasn’t even much rain at that point and the clouds didn’t look ominous.  We hung out for a good 30-45 minutes and the rain started trickling in but nothing major.  Live was due on the main stage around 9:30 and it was already that time when Anderson Paak hit the stage.

There are moments at Bluesfest where you are hoping to have this transcendent moment where an artist you are not familiar with brings you in with their tractor beams and sets their phasers on stun.  Anderson Paak was this for me (and the Weeknd was that for me many years ago).  These guys were on fire.  They realized they only had fifteen minutes to give us and they gave it their all.  I was quite impressed how Anderson Paak would be on the mic dancing around one moment and then hop on this mega drum kit and be pulling off some Jimmy Chamberlin stuff on me.  My face did melt a little in the rainstorm.

I told Andre I was going to head over to the washroom and I would meet them over at the main stage for Live.  I settled in for the ride and noticed that it was starting to rain a little harder.  No matter, this was LIVE, reunited!  I was stoked to see them.  This was a big moment for a Live fan!

I’m surprised the camera was working at this point.  I smartly powered the phone off considering the amount of rain that was hitting my jeans.

They hit the stage around 9:45 and just roll out the power.  All over You, Operation Spirit…bam!  They are on fire.  I even move up closer to the stage as there is plenty of room.

The thing is, there’s plenty of room because the rain is coming down HARD and I’m essentially walking into a giant puddle.  I honestly thought it was just a puddle I was in at one point, until I realized after that this is no mere puddle, the entire field has about two inches of water on top of it!  I look around the crowd and it looks like someone has the firehouse coming down on them.  It then dawned on me that this was the mother of all storms and we were right in the middle of it.  The only comparable storm I’ve been in would have been The Trews back in 2006.

Live rips into Pain Lies on the Riverside and I’m stoked to hear some tunes off of their Mental Jewellery album.  Then I see a stagehand walk right onto stage and give them knife across the neck hand motion.  It’s done, it’s over.  The sound is cut and the band is rushed off the stage.

Well, this is never a good sign.

As soon as they clear the stage, lightning strikes in the distance and the thunder immediately goes BOOM!  It must have been a close one!  Everyone heads over to the War Museum for some shelter.  I try and find the others but they are nowhere to be found.  After 30 minutes, I notice the lit up screens go black so I think “Alright!  Maybe the show is back on!”  Alas, it was not meant to be and they had cancelled the show for the rest of the night.  This is a smart move considering the field was water over our shoes and I can only imagine what happens when you mix thousands of people standing in water and a lightning bolt.

Soaked to the bone, I headed back to Hull, grabbed a slice of pizza and settled in for the long ride home with wet underwear.  Gah.  Friday night Bluesfest, it was still a good time, even though I only got a taste of how awesome Live is right now.

 

 

Deck repairs

What better way to spend your weekend than to tear up your deck?  My body aches.

The ‘before’ shot of the deck.

It’s become apparent that I need to replace my deck.  I don’t know much about them, but after replacing a few boards here and there over the years, I’ve noticed the old girl is starting to show her age so maybe it was time to investigate.  I put a screwdriver into the joists and sometimes the screwdriver would enter the wood completely.  I’m assuming that’s not a good sign!

I have to say, rebuilding a deck is not an easy task if you are thinking of redesigning it at the same time.  We have to keep things like ‘not wanting to block the bathroom window’ and ‘where is the septic tank’ in mind when redesigning.  We also want to solve some of the issues that are apparent from the last deck…perhaps raise it a few inches off the ground so it doesn’t rot?

I begged Vero to take this shot so I can show everyone I was hard at work.

Taking apart the deck wasn’t overly hard once I got a system in place.  With crowbar in hand, I would pop a board off and then take the nails out and then throw the board over near the fire pit.  Hey, quick question for people out there….can I burn cedar wood that has been stained?  Note: this stuff is not pressure treated wood.  Some boards were interesting as you would press down on them with the crowbar and water would come out of the wood.

While putting boards down with screws is probably an awesome idea, taking them out proved to be harder than the ones with nails in them.  On Saturday I was taking as many screws as I could out before popping the board, but then I realized it was just easier to pop the board off, and them hammer the ends of the screw off instead of trying to get it out of the wood completely.

The finished product.

With any renovation comes an unexpected surprise.  I’ll have to fill this in with plastic cement before starting anything else.

 

Review: Sam Roberts Band at Bluesfest

I quite like the cooler guy with a flag.

Years past, I would endure the Gauntlet of 10 days of rock and roll at the Ottawa Bluesfest but these bones cannot handle that much stress so this year I decided to pick up a 3-day pass.

Because of that, I ended up sacrificing seeing the Sam Roberts Band, but the music gods granted me with ticket karma and Etienne asked if I wanted his buddy’s ticket to see Sam Roberts Band at 8PM and then pass it to his buddy who was coming to see Toby Keith at 9:15PM.  Zang!

It was a beautiful summer day and I was the first to arrive on the scene.  Unfortunately for this man’s tastebuds, the placards of Coors Light adorned the beer tents and I groaned and reminisced of the days of Mill Street taking over Bluesfest by force.  No matter, I found a tent that sold Creemore for a cool $9.50 (!!).

I caught of few songs from local band Tribe Royal.  Not bad.  I then wandered over to the new River Stage which has been newly named the Bluesville stage.  It’s under a tent and they have some bleachers for people to sit down in.  It’s not a bad setup but it definitely cannot accomodate a whole lot of people.  I miss the River stage.  I did catch the last song by a band called Blast from the Sun which was a rocking tune.

The City Stage was calling my name and I sat on the grass to enjoy Shawn Tavenier from the Ottawa area.  They had some decent tunes and were a good warmup act for Toby Keith later on.

Karilee, Andre and Etienne all showed up a few minutes before Sam Roberts Band and we grabbed some beers while taking the festival all in.  This is the start of summer, in my opinion!  Karilee managed to be the smartest of us all and bypassed the entire crowd and found out a spot right in front of the stage!

Seriously, how much closer can we get?

They still got it!

It was Etienne’s first time seeing the band and my fourteenth (according to Setlist.fm).  He was in awe.

Ecstatic fans.

Not sure where I stole this photo from.  I believe the SRB Fans facebook page.

The band, of course, was on fire, after all these years.  I have to say that I never realized how long they have been around until I was telling the students at work that I was going to see Sam Roberts and they all asked me “Who?”

The last tune was Brother Down and Sammy came down to the rail to give everyone high fives.  Karilee and I went up to be graced by the rock and roll presence.  I have to say I generally don’t care if I physically touch an artist (but let’s not forget Mom’s story about how she once touched André the Giant at a wrestling match!) but the electricity of the moment when Sam gave me a handshake said “The summer is here, let’s rock and roll!”

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the older folks dancing away in front of us and partaking in the herbal form of the summer.  We were quite entertained by these folks and they chatted up a storm with us after the show.

Etienne convinced me to stick around for two tunes of Toby Keith since his buddy eventually had to bail on the entire night.  Adorned with Ford logos and a giant cowboy hat, I couldn’t help but think that this is what I feel the definition of a country artist from the US of A is.  Heck, he even had a song called Made in America.  It was entertaining for two songs, but my non-country music fan blood made me run for the hills (literally.  I was heading towards Gatineau).

When I said earlier that Bluesfest was the start of the summer, I take it back.  I was walking to Hull after the show and two young girls were running past me.  Then they stop and I hear one of them yell out “I’m going to yack! Bleeccchhhhhh.”  That, my friends, is the official start to the summer and I’m glad it’s here.  Here’s to a great Bluesfest for Karilee, Andre, Mike and Melissa who are doing the gauntlet this year.  I’ll be there all next weekend with Vero.

Super special thanks to my bro, Etienne for hooking me up with the ticket.

On the other side of the city, all my friends were gathering for supper.  Sorry for ditching you all at the last minute!

 

Sierra’s 13 month

Lucky number 13 turned out to be pretty lucky…Sierra has started to walk, but not until later in the month.

Things of interest:

  • It’s very interesting to see her take 13 steps and then stop.  Then try again.  Then stop. I’m confident that next month we won’t see her crawl around that much anymore.
  • I’ve also seen her handle Megablocks (aka, large Legos) quite well.  She is a curious little person who isn’t afraid of a whole lot.  She even flipped out of the floating duck into the pool (don’t worry, I was there to catch her) but she didn’t cry, she just looked a little shocked.
  • I love how she mimics my fake laugh.  I go “ha ha ha ha” and she will do the same thing.
  • She says words like “Ba ba” and “Ma ma” but we’re not entirely sure if she is associating them to an actual thing or not.  I think ‘ba ba’ might be water but it’s hard to tell.
  • She seems to be enjoying daycare quite a bit.  My only test for that theory is that she is comfortable going into Madame Orette’s arms in the morning and she seems happy to see us when she leaves at night.

We were lucky enough to spend a morning at the Great Glebe Garage sale with Trish and Aaron.  The GGGS has a special place in our hearts….we go every year we can to celebrate our first date over again.  Last year we had to miss it because Sierra decided she needed to be born that day!

Aunt Trish teaching Sierra the benefits of a remote control.

 

 

At the beginning of the month we headed out to the Vars community garage sale.  Sierra wanted these sweet bongos so we picked them up for $3!  Also, I have to say I love this backpack for Sierra.  While I thoroughly enjoyed the sling that carries a baby in front of you, I have to say a twenty pounder gets pretty heavy so it’s pretty marvelous that I can just switch and put her on my back.  We bring that backpack everywhere as we feel she likes riding up high compared to being in a stroller.

Sierra and I were looking for Mom at Wal-Mart and we decided to give this tricycle a try.  She might be a little too young for it.

Sue and Lynn introducing Sierra to Ryley.

Mina, Etienne and I at the Charitable Campaign relay race.  Mina appreciated the pepperette I brought along after his race!

Sierra and Mom are enjoying the summer days. 

A typical lunch hour with Etienne generally involves a walk around the Ottawa River and finding something to eat.  On this particular day the lunch gods has blessed us with this scene: the Gatineau Festibiere Festival was setting up and we found these chairs down by the river for some reason.  They, along with this amazing view of Parliament on a sunny day, were calling our name.  Might have been the best day of the summer!

Andre tipped us off to the fact that his workplace (Library and Archives Preservation Center) had an open house.  It was quite an amazing trip through the center – they store all types of artwork, artifacts, film, etc.  Anything Canadian makes its ways to this temperature/humidity controlled center.

 

A sample of the goods.

Restoration.

Check out the old equipment Andre has to play with!

Since I was already in the area visiting the preservation center, I dropped by Etienne’s house for Raphaelle’s birthday party!  It was a great party and it was great meeting all of Etienne’s family.  Let’s be honest though, I really was there to check out the new keg fridge he had purchased from Costco.  If I had to do it all over again, I would just buy one of these things.  They are fantastic.

Sierra has some East coast blood in her.

Sierra hanging out Grand-papa et Grand-maman before they headed off to Portugal. 

Cheese!  June is always home to the Sparks Street Chicken and Rib festival.  Robin invited us over to indulge in some pulled pork and managed to book a boardroom for lunch.  I spent the hour hanging out with Ethan watching some trucks go by, spinning him around in office chairs and basically doing the things I’ve always wanted to do in a boardroom but am not allowed to because I am an ‘adult’.

 

You never know what we’ll find on a lunch hour walk!

Trying on some new shades.  This lasts for approximately 3.2 seconds before she takes them off.

Father’s Day with my girl!  We tried out a smoked meat sandwich from the pizza shop in Vars.  Not bad!

Hanging out in the pool.

Neckties ARE relevant if they appear in a Father’s day card!  I also loved the book of photos from the past year of my life with Sierra.  Very thoughtful!

Uncle Mike dropping in for a visit.

I crack up every time I see this photo.

The front lawn is their favourite spot.

Mike and Melanie had a post-wedding/birthday celebration and they roasted a pig for the event!  Here’s Dad and Mike placing the pig.

Prepping the area.

The aftermath.  I had a good laugh when someone posted on Facebook ‘Great pig roast!” and Uncle Fred replied ‘Not for the pig!”

Showing some love.

Sierra’s first pig roast!

“Hey lady, check out my ride.”

Lawn games are incredibly more fun when you figure out a way to involve the kids.

Mom and Andre discussing the best way to roast a pig.

 

Sierra and Dad racked up the kilometers on this thing.

Busted!

After my bad batch of beer last month, I decided to improve my brewing process and I created a fermentation chamber out of a mini-fridge that was hanging around the garage (aka, it’s Andréane’s old fridge that she left here after finishing university.  I’m pretty sure there is a statute of limitations surrounding these kind of things.  It’s mine now!).  For those not in the know, a fermentation can be any type of box (fridge, freezer, insulated box) that can control the temperature so the beer properly ferments.  In the past, I would simply store the beer in my storage room and hope for the best.  The storage room is also the spot where my boiler is so the temperature fluctuates quite a bit.  This is NOT what you want during fermentation of beer.

I bought a temperature controller (seen here).  You tell it what temperature you want, and then you plug in your cooling (the actual fridge) and heating (I bought a 25W heating mat used to keep reptile aquariums warm) and the controller bounces between the two to ensure the temperature stays fairly steady.  Hopefully I’ll see some improvements in my beer in the future!  Honestly, I love my beer as it is, so it can only get better.

Bam!  Another month gone by!  Vero originally wanted to take these monthly photos with the blackboard up until the 12th month but I want to see how long we can go!  Here’s to seeing 100 months!