O Canada, Thanks For Everything . . . Except Avril Lavigne
Monday, March 1, 2010

Since the Olympics have now drawn to an amazing close, I have to say I'm totally bummed. 

Due to my house being one rudunkulous, unholy mess for the last few weeks, (an upcoming post), all the TV's, downstairs have been inoperable. Which leaves the upstairs . . .  and since most of the time it is a Dung Dump up there, too frightening for words, I try to avoid going anywhere near that pit of mayhem. So, every single stunning race, dance, game and hot Olympian—I have pretty much missed them all. 

Figures. The best Olympics ever and I've got nothin'. 

I did happen to watch one of the most moving tributes of my entire life, a feature piece wedged in between all the Superman Olympic sports. And when I say feature piece, I mean Tom Brokaw, in 
an hour-long documentary. And throughout this compelling bit, I was totally engrossed, most of the 
time with tears streaming down my face. 

And I apologize, I have combed the Internet and I can't find any links to it. I have a feeling NBC 
will rerun it during primetime. It was that amazing. 

It was the story of a town called Gander, Newfoundland, a miniscule slice of Canada with a
 population of 10,000. 

On 9/11, a substantial amount of planes headed to the US were redirected to this little, 
hardscrabble town. 7,000 people were stranded in Gander for 3 days, without clothing, 
(their suitcases were not allowed off the plane), food, medication and shelter. 

The folks of Gander for those 3 days opened their hearts, their lives, their wallets and gave
 everything they had to these strangers. The intertwined stories of the stranded people and 
the citizens of Gander were so awe-inspiring. The amazing outreach of this town, the way 
they just abandoned their lives for those 3 days, to help and comfort their brothers and sisters 
in need, truly exemplified humanity at its best. 

What beautiful souls there are in the world.

That's all I'll say, except keep an eye out for this.  

And now, I have culminated my Olympic viewing by witnessing the USA hockey team lose to the Canadians in overtime. 

Just perfect. 

We sat here deflated after cheering and screaming them on, hoping against hope for another, "Do You Believe In Miracles" moment.  

When the puck hit the goal, my Hubby muttered, "F@#*ing Canada."

And that was the beginning and end of the Olympics for us. 

But, for the record, we really don't wish an F bomb on Canada. 

We love Canada. And as a tribute to this astounding Winter Olympics that I did not get to watch, I thought I would tell you, Internet, some of the reasons I love Canada. 

♥ Here's the first thing I love about Canada: "O Canada." 

Now, THAT is a national anthem. It's beautiful. It's got a great melody and inspiring lyrics. And the citizens actually sing it because they can reach the notes; Unlike ours, which no one can sing except Whitney Houston when she's not on crack.

I sing that impossible song, though. Every. Single. Time. With my hand on my heart and my froggy voice straining and causing those around me to frown, as they shoot me and my freakadelic voice, dirty looks,  but whatev'. It's our national anthem. It is an honor to sing about the land of the free and the home of the brave, no matter how screechy my attempts.

It was so admirable every time those Canadians captured the gold, their good citizens would just stand there belting out that song, not only the athletes but all the Canadians in the stands. Just singing it at the top of their lungs in comparison to the Americans who mumbled or just ducked their head. 

Ours is a hard song, man. We got gypped. The Canadians got the rock star anthem.

Okay, next.

♥ Vancouver. I love Vancouver and the stunning beauty of that urban city, but most importantly the friendliness of the folks there. The total love-fest Vancouver gave to our Olympians, that's just the way those people roll. Go to their town and you'll see. You'll be treated just like a gold medalist. 

They're good people. There's no mistaking them for Oregonians. That's for sure. 

♥ Butchart Gardens, a floral paradise on the way to Victoria where the scent of thousands of flowers fill the air. 

♥ And then there's Victoria, a splendid, ancient city where the landmark Empress Hotel holds court over the town. The Empress is an elegant beauty that serves afternoon tea every day. I dragged my wonderful Hubby to High Tea there and he was impressed with the delicate sandwiches, but after polishing off the tiered tray, he said to our server, "That was a good starter. What's next?"

Obviously, he doesn't understand the difference between High Tea and The Golden Corral. 

But, being the schmoozer he is, he convinced our refined server to bring us tray after tray of tiny sandwiches until his man-appetite was satiated. 

He's an insurance man. He can talk people into stuff they don't want to do. 

And then there's the other side of Canada— the French side. 

First things, first.

♥ Oh, Poutine, Poutine, how I love thee. 


Now, if you've not heard of Poutine, it is essentially Quebec's legal answer to crack. French fries, smothered in brown gravy and topped with cheese curds. It might sound disgusting, but trust me . .  it is deliCIOUS!!!

My daughter wants to move to Canada because of Poutine.


♥ The chocolate crepes. Dear God. 

♥ And then there's the hot chocolate with fresh cream. 

♥ Beavertails which are essentially fried lardy dough stuffed with my personal favorites, peanut butter chips and hot fudge. 

I'm certain I acquired an entire layer of whale blubber, after eating my way through Quebec. 

♥ Mont Tremblant, a picturesque ski town, the one where Natasha Richardson died. But, I hate that she died there, because it is a place of happiness and light, not a place where beautiful women die in an innocuous tumble of an accident. The kind of fall that wasn't meant to kill a young wife and mother.  

That kind of awful needs to keep itself in a darker place . . . like Oregon.
Mont Tremblant is the ultimate in ski culture where the distinct smell of weed lingers in corners as the snow boarders and skiers mill about with their dogs and boards and, of course, weed. A laid back town that is just a blast of fun. 

♥ Quebec City, just a sweet, little charmer of a town. 

I call it French Light. My children learned the elegant manner of the French there, greeting everyone with a Bonjour and thanking them with a Merci Beaucoup, without all the boorish rudeness that is so much a part of the real France's culture. 

We stayed here:


♥ The Chateau Frontenac, a regal hotel that takes up almost the entire landscape of this thimble-sized city.

But, here's the most awesome of awesomeness part of this lovely hotel:


At check-in, I noticed this big beauty snuggled up on a dog bed by the concierge desk. My girls, missing their own pup, scurried over to fawn over him.

♥And that is when Santol charmed his way into our hearts.


He is called the Hotel Ambassador and his job is to make guests happy. 

He does his job admirably.

The concierge told us Santol could take a walk with us whenever we wanted and show us the sights of his fair city. 

Well, whenever we wanted, in little girl language meant every hour on the hour. It meant before Mom had her morning coffee we were racing down to the lobby to take a walk with our friend Santol. 

The concierge, gave us a quick lesson of basic dog commands in French, handed us his leash, a plastic doody bag and told us to have fun. 

That was it. 

Could you IMAGINE that scenario in the US?

Santol would be kidnapped, held for ransom and on top of it, the kidnappers would sue the hotel on the basis that Santol was there, just snoozing on his pillow for anyone to take and since the hotel didn't have him tied down or caged up, the temptation of his adorableness was just too great. The kidnappers would sue for being forced by adorableness into kidnapping. 

Because, it can always be someone else's fault, here in the opportunistic America. 

Before I could say, "Woof", we were out the door with a giant mountain dog leading us down the cobblestoned streets of Quebec City. 

As we walked with our big boy, shopkeepers everywhere stuck their heads out of their stores, calling out, "Bonjour Santol, Bonjour!"

I felt like I was Belle traipsing through the town in Beauty and the Beast. Except I wasn't singing. I wouldn't do that to the people of Quebec. They're too nice.

For 4 days, Santol was our dog, filling the hole in our hearts for our own pup back home, as he accompanied us everywhere we went, a welcome guest in every shop and restaurant in town. 

Forget fancy robes and down pillows, a big, cuddly dog to wrap your arms around and love, is the ultimate in making guests happy. 

Only in Canada. 

Merci, you gracious and noble neighbor. You have shown the world your splendid hospitality these past few weeks. This little American family has already been touched by your generous hearts, open to all who come through your doors. I'm blowing you kisses from across the border with a big thumbs up for a job well done. 

And Canada, watch for us, cause we're coming back to ski down your hills, chow on some poutine, crunch on some beaver tails, and celebrate Christmas with our fellow North Americans. Have the hot chocolate waiting, will ya?

Oh, and PS: Don't tell the Americans on this side, but I was secretly thrilled when that puck hit the net. You guys totally deserved it. You're nice people. You took care of our citizens so well. You have poutine, for goodness sake. And, you sing your national anthem like you really mean it, so much better than us.

Rock on Canada. We'll see you soon.

Today's Definite Download: "Long May You Run" by Neil Young. I thought his voice was in fine form last night. Incredible, since he's been a member of the AARP for MANY years now. The shame of it is, as he was up there giving those Olympians a beautiful tribute, none of them were singing along. Not even his fellow Canadians.

I guess it's because he's old enough to be their grandpa, but still . . . I know the words to Frank Sinatra and the Beatles, singers not of my generation. But maybe they're just a little busy being Olympic athletes and all. Anyway. . . 

For all those amazing athletes who might have broken world records but still have an ignorant knowledge of music but, mainly, mainly for wonderful Canada and all its lovely folks.

Long May You Run.

We've been through
some things together
With trunks of memories
still to come
We found things to do
in stormy weather
Long may you run.

Long may you run.
Long may you run.
Although these changes
have come
With your chrome heart shining
in the sun
Long may you run.

Photobucket




15 comments:

Kelly said...

O Canada, indeed! I, too, always sing along to O Canada at hockey games because, well, it IS easier to sing than the Star Spangled Banner, which becomes the Star MANGLED Banner when some people try to "interpret" it to suit their own personal taste.

My hockey playing daughter thinks Canada is the greatest country in the world, other than ours, and she just about plotzed for joy when she found out that she has actual Canadian cousins. "Really? We're part Canadian? Yes!" Except that she hates Sidney Crosby, which is a head-scratcher, and hated the fact that he scored the winning goal.

Love, love, LOVE the doggy in the hotel. I would have been all over that dog throughout my visit. I would have wanted him to sleep on the bed with me at night.

LisaPie said...

All good things! May I add a few:

1. Canada has MUCH better beer than we do. Every teeny little town has a brewery that takes pride in crafting a quality beer.

2. Canada has better cigarettes than we do. They don't see a need to load tobacco up with all sorts of chemicals to get you addicted and kill you off sooner. They are a kinder, gentler cigarette!

3. Banff - Jasper highway This is like heaven on earth. Gorgeous. And let's talk about Lake Louise. This is something everyone should put on their Bucket List

4. Calgary - I love Calgary.

5. Montreal - I know we aren't supposed to like the French Canadians, but for all the reasons you stated and more, I had a fabulous time in Montreal. And Old Montreal is what New Orleans' French Quarter wishes it could be if it were cleaned up.

6. Saskatoon berries from Saskatchewan.

7. Nanaimo Bars.

Ok, I better quit now. I have hijacked your blog for too long! Sorry. I love what you wrote and now I want to go to that hotel.

lvankuiken said...

This is great!! I love Victoria too! When we lived outside Seattle, that was Tim's & my "parent getaway" whenever we could manage it. We would take the high sped passenger ferry over and spend the day, then come home later that evening. I adore Victoria.

My mother loves Quebec, but I have to confess to never having been there - we usually go to France. I also have to tell you that we adore France, and the French. We have never had a negative experience, and have found the French to always be extremely welcoming and friendly. I think their rude reputation has been exaggerated. Our kids actually did a summer exchange there the past two summers, and we count the family we exchanged with dear, dear friends.

J'adore Canada! J'adore Francais! J'adore Joann!!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous Oregonian checking in again... seriously, most of us are delightful people! I wouldn't live anywhere else. (Except Canada. They're nice there, too.) I bet the grinches you ran into are from the Secret Committee to Make Oregon Seem Unpleasant Because Otherwise Everybody Will Move Here And It'll Be Totally Crowded. Really, most Oregonians are NICE!

Joann Mannix said...

Oregonian,

I know you're nice and I'm sure the crapheads who were mean to me are the complete minority of you Oregonians. I'm sorry. I'll stop dissing your fine state which is a beautiful one, indeed.

Aunt Becky said...

I got fatter looking at that, I swear. But Canada is awesome. Full of The Awesome.

Joann Mannix said...

Good luck on the book, Becks. I've got your back and I'm sending folks your way.

Joann Mannix said...

Kelly, maybe it's because those Canadians aren't as hot as our men.

LisaPie, Loved your list. And of course, Jasper Highway and Montreal and oh, gosh, that country is such a beautiful place inside and out.

Lisa, You are the sweetest thing everrrr!!!

I'm not sure where you go in France. I've had the bad with the good and I try very hard to be a good citizen of the world where ever I go. In Paris, when I tried to use my rudimentary French, I was met with snideness. And even though, we are excellent American representatives, I got a broadminded sense of disdain for us while in Paris. Now, on the other hand, in the little villages outside of Normandy, everyone was lovely. Burgundy, both bad and good. Same in Bordeaux and Alsace--Lovely people in some places, in others, not so much. It could have been my lack of language skills. I don't know. Or, they might have really all been from Oregon. JKing, Oregonian, Jking! Promise, that was the last one.

Anne Chatfield said...

Oh, Joann!

The memories just came flooding back as I read your blog. I spent three nights in Quebec at Chateau Frontenac - Oh, my! What an exquisite hotel, and it is so full of history! Churchill and FDR had conferences there during the war, QEII has stayed there, etc. etc. Darling, did you get to try some maple sugar pie while you were there? My favorite restaurant was the Continental, where I had some of the best meals of my life served by the most charming men on the planet!

I have to support France and the French. Both times I have visted Paris, I have been treated with nothing but kindness and warmth. In fact, on my last visit, my friend and I went to lunch with our tour guide from Notre Dame, and she invited us to stay at her apartment if we wished. I love Paris! In my opinion, the trick is speaking French, or attempting to speak French, while admitting (as I must) that you know your French isn't good. The French are EXTREMELY proud of their language, and, like anyone else, respond with respect to those who respect them. Vive la France! Vive Canada!

I felt the same way you did when the Canadians won. Good for them!

After reading your comment about Gander, I did an online search as well. No clip, but I did find a book that has been written about their 9/11 hospitality, "The Day the World Came to Town," available through Amazon.

Christine Macdonald said...

Thank you so much for taking the time and energy to write this fabulous post!

My G'parents are from Quebec so I have a special warm fuzzy in my heart when reading this.

xxoo

Anonymous said...

I see no excuse for an Olympic athlete not to know or sing our national anthem. They should be used to practice and discipline.

They just don't take the time or effort. I blame their homes and secondly our schools which allow any kind of "self expression".

When I was a student-teacher, some kids in my class refused to say the pledge of allegiance.

Mrsblogalot said...

Can we please talk about Poutine some more?? And when I can move there???

Don't hate me but I didn't watch not one second of the Olympics. Not one.

umm...back to Poutine please? (-:

Pamela said...

As a native Montrealer, I just wanted to thank you for your wonderful post. Quebec city is indeed an amazing little gem and Montreal is not so shabby either! lol
Oh and yes we do love our Poutine! Glad you were able to enjoy it.

Merci!

ProudSister said...

The poutine pics simultaneously make me nauseous & feel like I need to get on a treadmill. I'll have to go there & try some, perhaps while wearing a blindfold. I'd actually love to visit there, even if I have to eat those. Chocolate crepes & beaver tails, now we're talking.

I too love when athletes sing along with their anthems, especially when its at the top of their lungs. They've earned it. I even loved it when Shaun White played the air guitar when he got his gold. Live it up!

The Girl Next Door Grows Up said...

THank you! I totally agree that their anthem is the BEST EVER!

I often talk about living there - or at least visiting. It seem like such an idyllic place.

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