Cousin Ray

September 5

This morning’s highlight was a visit to my cousin (exact connection unknown, but I’m claiming him) Ray Drouin. Ray is retired Canadian Military, and we became buddies during the Drouin Reunion Tour of 2007. Considering his military background, Ray is very liberal, politically, and he told me about Obama before I’d even heard of him. We’d kept in touch by email over the years, and I was eager to see him again. He lives in a suburb of Ottawa, and Linda was able to find his house without any problem.

Ray was just as friendly and charming as ever. He served us tea and showed us his wife’s art studio and some photos of his family.  We picked his mind for information about the Drouins, and he showed us this coat of arms.

Ray isn’t traveling much these days, so he won’t be going to the reunion. He had been stationed in West Germany in the early 80s, just before Linda spent four years at the same base teaching in the school for the children of Canadians stationed there. They had some great stories to tell, including something awful about eating a raw egg through a sock. Enough said. A final hug from Ray, and we were off to downtown Ottawa.

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Ottawa is the capital of Canada, and the heart of the city is filled with huge old medieval-looking Gothic buildings that were constructed in the 1880s to house Parliament and various federal offices. Some were in the process of a major cleaning, and it improved the appearance immensely.

There was a large War Memorial, that, unfortunately had to be expanded as Canada was involved in more wars.  I think things were also added in an effort to make it more multicultural.P1020705

We hoped to get into the Parliament building (the session hasn’t yet begun) but due to some violent incident a few years ago, visitors were allowed in the building only if they had tickets. And by the time we got there, all the tickets were gone. Darn. So instead, we were able to cruise around the Supreme Court building. (Originally there were just six justices. I wonder how they dealt with ties.) Currently, five of the nine justices are women, including the Chief Justice. We have quite a ways to catch up with them.

Then off to lunch at a bistro in Ottawa’s bustling downtown.  We were able to eat outside, and I shared some of my sandwich bun with some resident sparrows. And I got this photo:P1020710

And here’s some other photos I took, including some from the stunning Notre Dame Cathedral:

https://notredameottawa.com/

Then off to the National Gallery of Canada. It’s just huge, and Linda told me how her father, a plumber, had worked on it while it was being built. But then when it was finally open, he could only walk as far as a bench in the main entrance, and waited there for the rest of the family to look around.  I didn’t take photos. Sorry. But I wanted to absorb the vibe, unfiltered. The exhibits we visited were mostly 20th Century art. I’m sure we missed a lot, but we concentrated on work by Canadian artists—photographs, paintings, sculpture and mixed media.  ( I loved the photo of Glenn Gould, still wearing his hat and overcoat, sitting in a folding chair while playing the piano,)  Each of the photographers discussed their work, and I was impressed how very articulate and focused they were—not my random snaps of anything that catches my eye. But my favorite was the display of wonderful First Nations sculptures. I had seen some before in other venues, and these were just as astounding. The materials were local—ivory, antlers, stone, wood, and the subjects were the local life and inhabitants—fish, wild animals, daily life. But there was such a vibrancy, an emerging sense of glee in the sculptures that delighted me. Linda’s favorite in the museum was a huge flying dinosaur constructed entirely of plastic lawn chairs, and it wasn’t apparent until you looked carefully.

Another wonderful, exhausting day, and then back to the cabin. Here’s a photo I took one morning there, and a guide at the nature preserve agreed that it was probably a little porcupine. Good night.P1020718

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