Monday, October 24, 2011

The Blathering 2011 - Just as Amazing As You'd Imagine.

The summer after my 3rd year at Guelph, I did a European Study Abroad that was run jointly with Michigan State University. I was the only Canadian. And back in the pre-Facebook days, there was no way to really connect with anyone pre-trip. So off I flew to Schipol, knowing no one.

It was one of the greatest experiences of my life. I not only met two incredibly dear friends as well as other friends with whom I'm still in contact, I also completely changed my study and career plans based on the course curriculum. But jumping into the unknown like that was such a learning experience.

I was sad to miss the first two years of the Blathering, I swore I'd go this year. And when it turned out that I'd be once again flying somewhere without having met anyone, I figured "Eh - you've done this before. It'll be fun."

But you guys? It was way better than I'd imagined.

These are the authors of blogs I've been reading for ages, sometimes for years. Following along with the triumphs and challenges of their lives, I feel like I've gotten to know them. So many of these folks feel like Kindred Spirits, people who just get it. And this weekend affirmed my suspicion - it's totally true. It's not often that you can plop into a room of over 40 women and immediately feel like you can just be you. But that's part of the magic of this gathering.

This weekend was an amazing blend of two things: discovering that the folks that I'd ho
ped were great were even greater, and finding a whole bunch of people who jumped immediately into the even greater camp. Sadly, there were a whole bunch of folks with whom I didn't get to spend much time. That's why I can't wait until next year's festivities. A'Dell - I'd be honoured to be deputized if you need another helping hand!

I do want to give some love to the people who made the weekend unforgettable:

- My phenomenal roomies - Lauren and Miriel. Best wing-women ever.
- The Organizers, for all their hard, hard work. Amazing food, drink, decor, setting and atmosphere. And NO DRAMA. You ROCK.
- A'Dell, Emily, and Manda, with whom I'd like to shop for vintage goods and cowboy boots, eat ice cream and mock hippies each and every weekend.
- Katie, Jen, Elizabeth, and Jessica for making me squeal with laughter all through dinner.
- Jennie, Kristie, Kate, Carissa, Jess, Christina, and Elsha for all the Sunday shopping and pizza eating shenanigans. Thanks, Christina & Elsha, for the airport shenanigans, too.
- Elizabeth, Jonna, Kelly, Natalie, Natalie, Jen, Tara, Elisabeth, Sarah, Regan, Andrea, Sarah Lena, Erica, Erica, Erica, Heather, Julie, Julie, Shelly Miranda, Hillary, Michelle, Becca, -R-, Linnea, and all the rest of you with whom I didn't get to hang out nearly as much as I wanted to.

I wanted to spend more time with every single person I met. I guess that's on the 'To Do' list for next year. Until then - let me know if any of you want to come on up and visit Canada's capital city.

I'm pretty lucky, though -- these guys were waiting for me when I got home along with their sainted father. They make waiting for 2012's gathering worth it.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

They Came From the North Track Listing for The Blathering 2011

If you're looking for the Track Listing for the "They Came From The North" CD that was in the swag collection at The Blathering in Austin, TX - you've come to the right place.

Below, you'll find more information on the artists and even additional recommendations for songs by these or similar artists.

  1. In the Beginning, K'naan
  2. Scar That Never Heals, Jeremy Fisher
  3. Sure Can Start, Two Hours Traffic
  4. The Beat Stuff, Hannah Georgas
  5. Pendulums, Sarah Harmer
  6. Dead Letter, Wintersleep
  7. Juliet, Royal Wood
  8. Buffalo, Kathleen Edwards
  9. Ahead By A Century, The Tragically Hip
  10. A Million Dollars, Joel Plaskett Emergency
  11. Red Heart, Hey Rosetta!
  12. Bridge to Nowhere, Sam Roberts
  13. Jolly Roving Tar, Great Big Sea
  14. Head Over Heels, Blue Rodeo
  15. Tournament of Hearts, The Weakerthans
  16. You Wouldn't Like Me, Tegan and Sara
  17. Gimme Sympathy, Metric
  18. Tall Trees, Matt Mays & El Torpedo
  19. Sold, Dan Mangan
Now for the additional info:

  1. This track is from K'naan's The Dusty Foot Philosopher. He's Somali and grew up in Toronto You've probably heard Wavin' Flag. If not - check it out.
  2. The song is on Goodbye Blue Monday. I have to admit that I'm not familiar with his work, but really like this song.
  3. With a name inspired by a line from Romeo and Juliet, this band hails from tiny PEI - just like Anne of Green Gables! I adore the entire album on which this track is found. It's called Little Jabs and it's a staple for our road trips.
  4. The track is from an EP of the same name. I find it RIDICULOUSLY catchy. Another single of hers I enjoy is called Drive.
  5. We first saw her sing backup at a concert featuring a bunch of the bands on this album. She's great. This track comes from her All Of Our Names album. I love a whole bunch of her other songs including Silver Road, I Am Aglow, and Basement Apartment.
  6. This song hails from the Welcome To The Night Sky album. These guys are talented and we've seen them in concert but they are, as Dave aptly describes them, "unhandsome." Another fun song of theirs is Weighty Ghost.
  7. Royal's from Guelph, Ontario - the city in which I went to University. The track is from his A Good Enough Day and he's married to Sarah Slean, another talented musician.
  8. This is the opening track to the sublime Asking For Flowers. Kathleen is from Ottawa, and we love her. I'd recommend anything from this album, particularly The Cheapest Key and I Make the Dough... Other stuff I love includes Six O'Clock News, Hockey Skates, and Back To Me .
  9. Oh, The Hip. Canada's most popular band during my high school and Uni years - multiple platinum albums, concerts sold out in seconds.. I find this hilarious as they went to high school with my aunt and uncle (who was their volleyball coach). My Aunt paid $1 to see them play in the cafeteria! They are the most famous dudes to come out of Kingston, Ontario. That's saying something; our first Prime Minister was from there. ANYWAY - this track is from Trouble At The Henhouse, but there's great stuff in their HUGE catalogue. My favourite albums include: Fully Completely, Day for Night, and Phantom Power.
  10. We are big Plaskett fans; he's so lanky you'd think he played bass! This track is from his Make a Little Noise. Another great song is Nowhere With You.
  11. I don't know too much about these guys, other than that they're from Newfoundland. The track is from Into Your Lungs.
  12. Sam is great; he's an anglophone from Montreal. This song is from Chemical City. It and We Were Born In The Flame are solid albums.
  13. One of Canada's most popular bands. They hail from Newfoundland, and play a mix of traditional music and stuff they've written themselves. I am a sucker for the traditional stuff, like this track. It's from Play, and the whole album is great, as is Up.
  14. These are our most prolific country-rock band. The track is an unreleased one from my favourite of their albums, Five Days in July. I also enjoy albums like Lost Together and Tremolo.
  15. These guys are Winnipeg's finest. This track is from the amazing Reunion Tour, and I adore Left and Leaving. From a literary perspective, they are arguably the best song writers in Canada. This is song paints a wonderful picture of the LAST person with whom you'd want to spend time, let alone curl. Check out Aside, Watermark or One Great City!
  16. Tegan and Sara are twin sisters. Also lesbians. (Gareth from "The Office: UK" would approve.) This is my favourite of their songs, and the album from which it comes - So Jealous - is one I would take on a desert island. Not a bad track on it.
  17. The song is from Fantasies, and I think this track got a bit of US airplay (we heard it while hanging in Santa Monica) but the band is solid.
  18. The songs is from Terminal Romance. I love the song, but am not too familiar with the band.
  19. This track, and the wonderful Robots come from Nice, Nice, Very Nice. He's one of the few artists here we haven't seen live. YET.

A HUGE thanks to Dave for helping me pull this together. And if you are wanting to check out some free Canadian music, feel free to check out CBC Radio 3, where they have a free radio stream, podcasts and tonnes of archived concerts.

One final thing is a bit of information on WHY we have such a funky, thriving music scene. Since the 1970s, there have been Canadian Content Regulations for media. This means that things like TV and Radio are required to consecrate a certain portion of their airtime to original Canadian content. It was put in place to 'preserve Canadian culture' as we do get inundated by stuff from the US. It's kind of a drag for TV but it's allowed for an amazing, thriving Canadian musical landscape.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

My Accent Vlog

I finally got off my butt and did the Accent Vlog. Here it is, insanely backlit. And accompanied by the worst screen capture ever. Enjoy!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Autumn Sunlight

I love so many things about this time of year. I was born in October, so my love for this month started early. But it's harvest season, and the leaves begin their fiery change. The weather is warm and sunny. It is arguably the nicest time of year in Central Canada, and we celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving . The only sting is that it's finite, that winter is around the corner. That and all the 'scary' crap; Hallowe'en is not my favourite time and I HATE horror.

But possibly my favourite thing this time of year? Is the light.

The light in the afternoon is to me like a little taste of heaven. Warm, with orange and yellow hues, and soft, soft shadows. It makes me want to remember every single moment that we bask in this glorious light, mental pictures that will never fade.

In the past decade, I've missed this time of year many times. I've been elsewhere so often (or in a newborn stupor, as I was last year). I've been in Italy, in Maryland/DC, in rainy Vermont, in Bermuda, in Vegas, in LA. So rarely have I been here to frolic in this gorgeous light
But how lucky am I that one year, I was exactly where I wanted to be. And I was making the best decision of my life - joining my life to Dave's. Seven years ago, on Oct. 9, 2004, we were married. And our beautiful wedding photos are filled with this glorious light, a light that pales in comparison to the brightness his love brings me. I am so blessed.

Happy Anniversary, Dave.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Thirteen Things You Should Know About Me BEFORE "The Blathering"

I am so very excited, you guys. The Blathering is in less than three weeks' time. A whole weekend of fun in Austin, Texas, which is a city I last visited at the ripe old age of 9. Bloggers! Hilarious, awesome bloggers! I cannot wait.

But before I go, I feel I should warn you about me. And I'm totally ripping off previous year's attendees as I write this post:

Thirteen Things You Should Know About Me BEFORE "The Blathering"

1. I have a great memory. A creepily good memory. Any of the other bloggers I've met IRL (Maggie, Arwen, Whitney) will tell you that this is one of the first things about which I warned them. I'm not a stalker, I swear. I just have an affinity for this sort of stuff. So if I've read your blog and remember your children's birthdays or the names/birth order of your siblings, just roll with it.

2. You want me on your trivia team. It's not just data about bloggers that I retain. History, science, sports stats - TOTAL NERD. I am one of those people who never lost the love of learning. And I will help you win at trivia.

3. The word I've most often used to describe me is enthusiastic. I am a grown woman who will jump up and down for joy when she hears your good news.

4. I am an extroverted fast-talker. I am sorry. I will try to slow down. If it's any consolation, I also speak this quickly in French, the other language in which I am required to work.

5. I studied Food Science in University. This is the study of Chemistry, Microbiology, and Engineering as it relates to food, with a bit of Nutrition thrown in. I studied Food Laws during studies abroad in both Europe and Asia, and did my Master's in Food Policy. And now, I do HR for the Canadian Government. ??? Well, right NOW I am on a year of unpaid leave because I have two young children - Teddy is 2.5 and Veronica is 13 months.

6. I have lived my entire life in Canada. I was born in suburban Montreal, grew up in suburban Toronto, and moved to Ottawa 7 years ago. But I have never lived more than 1 hour from the US border. While I love my country, I have such an enormous soft-spot for the US. I've been to 34 states; while I've liked each and every one, my favourites are VT, CA , and MI.

7. I am an only child. Both my parents are oldest children, so I got away with nothing while growing up. But I had a very happy childhood, and I've always been good at dealing with adults. It made for some tough times as an elementary school student, but it's wonderful now!

8. My Dad's family has been in Canada for generations. We are descended from Loyalists, from original habitants de la Nouvelle France. My Mom? Was born in Italy and moved here as a child. I am a big ole mutt.

9. I am Catholic. I was raised in the Church, fell away from it for years, and have returned. I am still a total work-in-progress, and I really struggle with some church teachings (gay marriage, I am looking at you). But I am a practicing, faithful Catholic. My faith has enriched my life so much.

9. I have known my husband since grade school. We both attended St. Francis of Assisi Elementary School in Georgetown. Dave is two years older than me, so we didn't become real friends until high school when he became one of my best friends. Next fall, we'll have known each other for THIRTY YEARS (I will be turning 35). Every once in a while, though, a previously unknown story will crop up. You'd think that would be impossible, but you'd be wrong.

10. Nothing I've ever done has been more transformative than becoming a parent. It sounds trite, but it's true. It's the hardest thing I've ever done, but nothing has brought me more joy. I am so blessed and lucky to be sharing this with Dave.

11. I am a HUGE fan of TV. It's the episodic nature, I think. I love seeing characters grow and change. My current faves include: Parks and Rec, The Office, and The Good Wife. My all-time faves: Veronica Mars, Arrested Development, and The Wire.

12. Be warned - I have been known to break into song. And I am hoping to share some awesome Canadian music with all of you.

13. I love to eat and drink, especially regional specialties. I also love to read, primarily non-fiction and chick-lit. I welcome recommendations for either category.