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August 11

August 11.

    The excitement never ceases! I donít exactly know where to begin, since everything has happened without me writing it down at the time. The first thing I guess I should too is continue relating the happenings of last Tuesday, after the false memories talk. Iíll make this the quick version. Pam and I left the talk and arranged to meet Barry (one of the grad students in Alanís lab) to play softball in the evening. Pam, being the sports nut, sucked me into this. I was much more interested in going with other members of the lab to take Mike Miller out for dinner. No such luck. But we could meet at a pub on Whyte Ave. after supper.
It was my intention to watch as Pam played, but that did not happen either. I played second base instead. Letís just say that when Geniva called today to see if we wanted to play again, I wasnít jumping at the chance.

    So, we played, and resulted in a tied game. Not entirely disappointing, considering that we were handicapped because we had too few girls on our team; an automatic Ďoutí tacked onto each rotation of players to bat.
After the game, Pam and I walked down to the pub on Whyte Ave. We ended up staying and talking until midnight. Mike was an interesting fellow, reminding me a bit of a ďmountain manĒ. Alan and another prof named Walter Bishof proved to make the evening quite silly at times. Oh well, paper airplanes and origami with menus is fun sometimes.

    What else have we done? Last Sunday (Aug. 2) we visited the Edmonton Valley Zoo (which was what you would, or somewhat less than you would, expect) and the cultural fair put on for Heritage Day.

    This was something worth seeing! Fifty different countries or cultural groups had tents set up. They were offering dancing, music, food and crafts. Since Pam and I went there after visiting the zoo, we were in a bit of a hurry to get home, so didnít stay too long at each tent. But it still took us two and a half hours to make it around all the tents.

    We saw some great drumming from an Asian country, Irish step dancing, Spanish singing and German singing which Iíd rather forget. Some of the people representing more northern countries were dressed in elaborate and undoubtedly sweltering costumes.

    That was last Sunday. This Sunday, we attended an equally festive spot. We managed to get into the closing night of the Edmonton Folk Music Festival. I may have mentioned before that al the week-end passes have long since been sold out, and only one-night tickets were available for inflated prices at the gate. There were also a few people standing at the gates, trying to sell tickets out of their advanced packages, since they couldnít make one night, or whatever. These tickets werenít so terribly expensive. We got one for only $15. Pam was about to give up on searching for a second ticket (I said they were available, not abundant) when a woman behind her asked if we were looking for a ticket. We said we were, how much?, $10. I only had a twenty, so I went for change. I ought to mention that the ticket booth was selling them for $35. When I got back, the woman had given Pam the ticket for free, explaining that she had once been given a free ticket, and that if we ever found ourselves with an unneeded ticket, we should give it away too. No problem. And just like that, we got into a concert for $15, which could have cost us $70.

    The festival was huge! There were about five different stages, where concerts and workshops went on during the day. We caught the tail-end  of a Celtic band on one of the smaller stages. There were craft tents, one which included a local musical instrument maker.

    To give you an idea of the size of the festival, there were over 1000 volunteers helping out with its running.
The main stage faced a hillside, on which thousands of people had placed tarps and blankets. Camping tents were set up at the top of the hill. There were large projection screens set half-way back into the audience, so that individual features of the bands might be seen by the unlucky ones who hadnít stayed all weekend to get a good seat.

    At some places, the hill was quite steep. Where Pam and I sat, we were constantly in danger of sliding down into the people below us. At the first place we tried, it was impossible to sit down. We would have had to use stakes to anchor us.
Now the acts: there was a Spanish singer and a band from one of the southern African countries. Iím not a huge fan of Spanish singing. It reminds me of opera. The African band was great and very lively, jumping and spinning all over the stage, to a combination of traditional drums and electric guitars.

    Then there was Arlo Guthrie. He came out with his flowing grey hair (which was about all we could see, at the distance we were sitting), and proceeded to tell stories and sing a revised version of Aliceís Restaurant Masacree. Although he played a few newer and unfamiliar tunes, I was quite content to hear Aliceís Restaurant.
The last act was Jan Arden. She sang well and was not disappointing.

    Monday morning, Pam and I woke up to a most peculiar smell, reminiscent  of the burning-cardboard incident. When we opened the curtains, the sun did not pour in as it usually does. In fact, only a sickly orangish-yellow light entered. It seems that forest fires were started by lightning in northern Alberta, and the smoke had covered Edmonton and even down to Calgary. When we took the bus to the university, travelling over the North Saskatchewan River, it was impossible to see from one side to the other. The smell was oppressive, and people with respiratory problems were not happy.

    Today was not so bad, but the health department recommended that people with breathing trouble still keep their windows closed.

    Today was also Pamís first day of work. She has landed a job as a nanny for an eight-month-old boy. The pay is very good; only slightly less than what she would have been paid for a different opportunity she found here with three children, and more than what she would be paid as a pre-school or teacher. The childís father is an architectural engineer and his mother works at the university. Pam is very happy with the whole situation. She had a wonderful day.

Any comments? 

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