Thursday, May 30, 2013

Oh, Canada!

Probably a bazillion people have used that title for a blog post, but I don't care.  It's just so fitting, eh?

I've discovered that people really do use "eh" a lot in Canada.  The reason I know this is because I am, in fact, in Canada.  I'M IN CANADA!

It might not seem like a big deal to anyone, but here's why it's a big deal to me:  I've never been outside of the U.S. before!  This is my first foray into international lands.  Here are my initial observations:
  • Going through the border makes me a little nervous, even though I know I'm not a miscreant.
  • Canada doesn't seem very different from the U.S., but there are little things that make everything feel not-quite-right.  For example, driving along the highway feels very European, with names like Queen Elizabeth Way, Grimsby, and Brittania showing up on road signs.
  • The Native American tribes in this part of the continent are very different from the tribes I learned about in my youth.  They've got names like Mississauga and Neyagawa.
  • Chocolate is different.  It's . . . better.
  • Money is a pain to deal with.  So are cell phones.
  • Milk is sold in bags.  Yes, bags.  Flimsy, not-resealable bags.  Weird.
I think that about covers it for now.  I can't post my own pictures at the moment, but here is one Rachel took, just as we crossed the border:

Thing I'm thankful for: that Rachel is my travel buddy.  I'd flip out, if it wasn't for her!

Friday, May 24, 2013

For the Benefit of Sir McCartney

On June 18, 1942, the best performer the world has ever seen was born in Liverpool, England.  His name is, of course, Paul McCartney.

I've been to a lot of concerts in my life.  A lot.  I try to make a habit of it.  Appreciating music makes me feel good about life, and endorsing musicians makes me feel proud.  If it's been too long since I've been to "a show," I start to feel bored.  And boring.  Plus, there's something truly amazing about connecting with others through a shared passion -- in this case, the love of rock 'n' roll.  Well, more specifically, the love of a Beatle.

My dear, dear, dear, etc., etc. friend Gretchen graciously invited me to see Paul McCartney play in Austin's Frank Erwin Center tonight.  So I really can say with 100% authority that Paul McCartney is hands down, bar none the best performer in the entire world.  He has It.  He is magnetic.  You can't help but watch his every move on stage.  From his yelps and "whoos!" to his slight dance moves and storytelling, he is absolutely charming.  And for someone who's 70 years old -- well, he has stamina!  He was rockin' out like nobody's business!  The concert didn't peter out at the end, either -- oh, no.  Rather, it got progressively more rockin'!  Every song was so good, too.  Several times I thought, "Gosh!  Why did he play this one right now?  How's he going to top it?  Anything now will be a let-down!"  But every time, he topped it.  Here, I'll give you some examples:
  • "Live and Let Die" was accompanied by fire.  Yes, bursts of fire a la The Great and Powerful Oz.  And fireworks.  Fireworks that shot 20 or 30 feet above the stage.  But then . . .
  • He sat down at one of his pianos and played "Hey Jude," which speaks for itself, but is even more powerful and simultaneously playful when the performer invites the audience to join in the chorus -- twice with just the men, twice with just the women, and multiple times for everyone.  But then . . .
  • He exits the stage and comes back in response to the encore waving a huge Texas flag, while one of his band mates waves a huge Union Jack.  But then . . .
  • He played the last few songs on Abbey Road.  That's right; the night ended with "The love you take is equal to the love you make."
The best way to describe it is to say that Paul McCartney and his band played every song as though it was the last song of the night -- with vigor and intensity.  It was so wonderful.  Please watch him live, if you ever get a chance.  You won't regret it.  You won't!

Thing I'm thankful for: Gretchen's friendship

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Tornado Alley

A lot of people forget this, but I'm not actually a Georgia girl.  I'm an Oklahoma girl.  Born in Stillwater, home of the Cowboys, I spent the first few years of my life in a split-level home on West Admiral, across the street from wheat fields as far as my young eyes could see.  Some evenings, my dad took me on walks in those fields, and I could smell the manure all around me.  Manure is a smell you get used to, when you grow up near farmland.

After a while, we moved to 301 South Orchard.  My mom bought it while my dad was on a business trip.  Upon arriving home, he learned that he had to start packing because we were moving out of the split-level and into a two-story.  It was the finest house in the world, as far as I was concerned.  Just a few blocks away was the elementary school, which gave my siblings and me easy access to two wonderful playgrounds.  The front playground was good for the sandbox, and the back playground was good for the slides, foursquare, and the back stop.  It was at this elementary school that I learned about the Oklahoma Land Rush and the Trail of Tears.  I learned how to correctly pronounce Iroquois, Choctaw, Chickasaw, and Pawnee.  I made dream catchers with my friends and looked for arrowheads in the dirt.

By far, by far, by far -- the thing I remember most vividly about my home state is the way the sky looks and feels and smells just before a tornado.  It is still and quiet, and the atmosphere has an eery green tint.  You go outside to marvel at the calm that envelopes everything, but even before the sirens sound, you know what's coming.

Nearly everyone in Oklahoma has a cellar.  Though not even close to being a full basement, they're large enough to store cans of dry food and about a dozen standing people who are hiding from a bad storm.  Going into the cellar always made me scared, but it was also a bit thrilling.  I remember sometimes wishing the sirens would signal a tornado, so we would have to go down there.

Now that I'm older, I'm grateful my family only had to use the cellar a few times.  What a wonder tornadoes are.  What a frightening, familiar wonder.

Thing I'm thankful for: my safety

Thursday, May 09, 2013

It's Done; We Have That Now.

I'm in New Mexico, folks!  I don't have much time to write because I have to get back on the road, but I just wanted to let you know that here at the Holiday Inn Express in Santa Rosa, you can get freshly-made pancakes in under a minute:

Nice, huh?
(For the record, they are not very tasty.  But I bet if you had better pancake mix, they'd be alright.)

Thing I'm thankful for: starry New Mexico skies

Monday, May 06, 2013

The Big Downside to Being a Mormon

There are no church bells.

As I sit in my office at the main campus library, I can hear the ringing of the bells in the Tower.  They are lovely.  Last week, it was quite festive.  My co-worker and I laughed delightedly when we discovered what Tom was playing.  "Is that . . . Christmas music?" she asked.  "Yes, I think so!"  And we enjoyed the holiday in May.

Today, I can't quite make out the songs, but they just keep coming.

I will miss those sounds in a few months.

Thing I'm thankful for: late-night movies with Brooke