2/18/2014

And so it begins...

Yesterday was Family Day here in Ontario - a much-needed 3-day weekend. But despite having the day off work, my alarm rang at 6:50am and both Brad and I were on the move. We pulled out of the driveway at 7:30am, made a quick stop for coffee then continued on what would turn out to be a two-hour drive. After trading the highway for rural roads, we passed through tiny towns and hamlets, across vast open spaces and through fields of wind turbines. Eventually we made the right turn onto County Road 14 in the village of Conn. Brad's scrawled notes indicated that we were looking for the 2nd place on the right, and then we were there. The driveway was long but as we crested the slight hill we saw it. Swagged with a green tarp and covered in snow, but not to be missed.



It is with great pride and extreme happiness that I can finally say that we are the owners of this 1976 Winnebago Chieftain.

Winnie's in pretty good shape for being 37 years old, but she does need some loving care. Next month she'll be making the northern migration to a lovely barn in Oro, where she will rest comfortably while we gussy her up. I'll keep you posted on the progress.

11/08/2013

Busted Flat


Stranded at the side of the road waiting for CAA to arrive. My tire - flat, my anxiety - racing. I was due to be at the Orillia Opera House no later than 6pm for soundcheck. Not. Going. To. Happen. The chipper CAA lady advised me that the Newmarket area was experiencing a delayed response time of up to 2 hours. The current time was 4:42pm. Shit.

After what seemed like for-ev-er (47 minutes in reality). The bluetooth-sporting, 30-something CAA guy pulled up behind me and we began the task of changing the flat. I didn't want to seem like a prissy broad (cause I totally am), so I tightened my hood around my face and got out of the car. It was freezing and windy, but I stood by - nodding and sharing his frustration while he manually loosen the fused lugs (the air compressor wasn't cutting it). Finally the wheel popped off and he carried it over to me "you got screwed" he grumbled... pointing out the very large phillips-head screw embedded into the tread.

Within 10 minutes I was back on the road, pushing the wagon for everything that she's got. The drive home wasn't too bad until I found myself smack-dab in the middle of a blizzard. Me, and every car around was puttering along at 50km. Fuck.

I stormed through the door at 6:40pm and hastily got my shit together. Put on a dress. Took off said dress after a glance in the mirror determined that I looked prego - never a good look for me. Jeans, shirt, brushed my teeth - hair would do and was back out the door again.

I was backstage at 7:15pm (showtime was 7:30pm) scrambling to find the director. No time for sound check, we decided that I would "wing it" and cross our fingers. I remember standing side stage prior to my performance, aching for a drink (water or whiskey, either would suffice). In what will not be known as my finest moment, I spotted a half-empty bottle of water wedged between 2 stage riders and proceed to unscrew the cap and gulp it down.

Four minutes later, I was walking off stage. My song was done, I didn't forget the words and the audience was cheering. Yay, me.

Tonight B and I are playing at one of our regular spots in Barrie (The Local), and tomorrow night we'll be trekking up to Bracebridge for a show at The Griffin. Knock on wood we encounter no more surprises.

11/07/2013

and then it was November



The past 9 months have flown by since I last checked in. So, so many things have happened that I don't even know where to begin. After leaving New Orleans, we headed North to Tennessee and spent a few days in Memphis and Nashville. I have such a strong pull to the city of country music (Nashville, that is), that I can't even begin to explain from where and whence it came. B and I took our first road trip there almost 8 years ago and it's been rooted in my heart ever since. This time, I found myself buzzed on $2 PBR, soaking up as much live music and neon glow that I could possibly take in. I remember choking back tears as we walked up Broadway towards the car, knowing quite well that the next day our little rig would be departing the city that I was totally infatuated with.

Two days after leaving the rolling hills of Tennessee, we rolled back through the familiar streets of Orillia. It was cold and traces of snow still lingered around front porches and driveways. We were back, our adventure over, and the decisions of what would come next were staring us down point blank.
Within 2 weeks of coming "home". We sold the truck and trailer, moved into a little cottage by the lake and committed to a one-year lease on a storefront in downtown Orillia. B and I had decided to follow (yet another) dream and open a guitar shop. Within one month of handing over the lease agreement, the doors were open, the walls were lined with a seriously-cool collection of guitars and we were heartily welcomed by the local musicians.

Over the summer, business was good. B had taking to working at the shop full-time, while I took on the role as a nanny for 3 kids. I was basically Mary Poppins transported to a horse farm in Oro. I spent my days swimming, feeding chickens and preparing endless ego waffles. The summer flew by, and when September came, I was saddened to be leaving the nanny-life behind.

Somewhere during that time we also moved out of the little cottage to the apartment above the shop. B's commute is officially 6 seconds.

I spent the better part of September holed-up in the apartment writing songs. How that happened I'll never know, but the muse was paying me a visit and she stayed for 2 weeks. In that time, I managed to write an entire album. We're booked to return to Blue Rodeo's studio at the end of November. To say I'm pumped would be the understatement of the year. We also changed the band name (yes again).

So that pretty much wraps up the time inbetween. I've taken on a new job as the graphic designer for the environmental department with York region. In the beginning I thought I'd be designing posters for the dump - I couldn't have been more wrong (in a good way).

It's funny to think that 1 year ago, we were hammering a For Sale sign into the front lawn of our home and dreaming about what the coming months would hold. That seems like forever ago.

I'll try not to be such a stranger from here on out.
-a.

3/22/2013

The Lower Ninth



I wasn’t sure what I expected as we drove up and over the bridge that spanned the mighty Mississippi, into the lower ninth ward of New Orleans. To me, it seems like ages ago that Katrina flooded this city. I remember hearing about it for weeks afterwards on the news, and seeing the wake of destruction on the front page of newspapers and on evening news broadcasts. But then, just like everything else, it eventually becomes old news and gets filed away.

As we drove through the sparse and barren blocks where homes and community once thrived, I was engulfed in this strange feeling. The scene struck a chord with me, a dissonant one. I didn’t feel right pulling out my camera as we drove along, I couldn’t bare to think how I would feel if it was my house or my neighborhood, that was washed away and some tourists were driving along taking pictures of it (to make matters worse, we were sitting in the car eating a bag of beignets. Note to self: don’t attempt to eat powdered donuts in the car. Powdered sugar will always win).

The rebuilding projects are quite remarkable (yet seem to be very slow in progress). The homes are modern marvels of sleek design. Just last week I read an article about the houses that Frank Gehry built for the relief effort, and was pleased that we actually found it. We also saw the house that Mike Holmes built during his time down here.

It was a depressing site, but I’m glad we took the time to check it out. The drive back to our trailer was a quiet one, with Terry Reid’s Brave New Awakening playing softly – it was quite fitting.

Today we’re packing up, once again, and headed to Memphis. We’ve got a gig on Saturday afternoon, which I’m really looking forward to. New Orleans has been a bit of a dry city for us, with regards to gig opportunities.

We’ll see you further down the road,
-a.


p.s. If we had a tow-hitch on the back of the trailer, we would have definitely been bringing this little guy back with us.

3/17/2013

New Orleans: A Love Story



All it took was half of a block, and I knew I was head over heels for this city. Enter Amy, holding a boom box over her head.

To tell the truth, I never really thought much about visiting New Orleans. Sure, the option always popped to mind whilst daydreaming about being anywhere other than my cubicle, but it was never a serious thing. However, while studying the road map that would eventually lead us back home, all the signs were pointing us to the Big Easy.

Yesterday we devoted the afternoon to exploring the French Quarter. It didn’t seem fair to try and cram everything that Nawlins has to offer into one day. Needless to say, this will be part one of a mini-series.





The bearded one on Bourbon Street. 


Drinking while strolling. Seriously, all cities should adopt this policy.


Fried cat-fish po-boy. It was gone in 3 minutes. Ya, I'm a lady.



 Who ate all my beignets?

Things I learned about the French Quarter:
1) Order more beignets than you think is reasonable. Trust me.
2) A can of Pabst is only $0.92 at the grocery store across from CafĂ© Du Monde (but on Bourbon St it’s $2.75).
3) Devour that fried-catfish po-boy like it’s your job (even if you’re gluten-intolerant gut tells you otherwise)
4) Look up, it’s amazing.



3/13/2013

Due North


Last Saturday morning we said our goodbyes and packed up from our little plot in Mission and headed north, making the 7 hour drive to Houston. We've settled in (for a few days) just north of the city in an area called the Woodlands. 

The weather is noticeably cooler up here, and I find myself missing the heat (neither Brad nor Hank are complaining). We're only here for a few days and then we plan on heading east towards New Orleans.

Yesterday we played the tourist game and headed out to Old Town Spring for some meandering and such.


The sun was warm and we stuffed our faces with pulled pork nachos, beer and some deep-fried Reese cups. Brad was a satisfied man.


Last night we had the chance to play on one of the coolest stages I have ever seen – The Doesy Doe Music Cafe


Tonight we're heading downtown Houston in pursuit of some open mics. Hopefully lady luck will grace us with her presence a few more times.

2/19/2013

Hey lady, you need some drugs?


Last week we took a day trip across the boarder into Progresso, Mexico. We parked the car on the US side and simply walked over the bridge. The town doesn't seem to cater to the '30-something' (much like the whole Rio Grande Valley for that matter), but it was still on our list of things to check out. 

The main street is lined with pharmacies, dentists, liquor stores and nail salons. Craft vendors with their carts cluttered the narrow sidewalks, selling everything from straw hats and souvenirs to baby goats and bicycles. Every couple of steps, men and women would pop out of doors holding up signs and shouting "Hey lady, you need any prescription drugs?", "Lady, you need to see dentist?", "Pedicure, Manicure, five dolla!". The key to Progresso's thriving economic stability is to offer cheap (generic) prescription drugs and affordable dentistry to Americans, and it seems to work. Each dentist office that we passed had a full waiting room, and generic Viagara was cheap and plentiful (if you're willing to take a gamble).

As we walked further down the main drag, we saw a small sign that advertised 'one dolla beers'. So down the ivy-lined alley we went and plopped ourselves on a rickety set of patio chairs, and a portly Mexican fellow hustled over with a few bottles of chilled Dos Equis. I was in heaven. The first beers went down easy, so we stayed for another round. Another man was making the rounds with a basket of fresh churros, which we hastily bought up. Fresh, warm churros and $1 beers, this was seriously my utopia.

After cocktail hour, we ducked into a fancy restaurant to grab some authentic Mexican-fare for lunch, and then headed back outside to try and track down the churro man again. Coming up empty-handed, we walked back over the bridge, and made our way home. And that, in a nutshell, was our trip to Mexico. Thrilling to say the least.


* The first 2 photos are evidence of what happens when a Winter Texan, who clearly has never used an iPhone, offers to take your photo - Brad and I crack up every time we look at it. Plus, the fellow in the back shares an uncanny resemblance to grandpa Munster, no?