I had so much fun at our 4th of July party that I decided to do it twice more.
On the 5th we had one of my favorite events of the year. Our embassy staff in Ottawa and their families came over for a picnic. We ate more BBQ! I know Julie and I get much of the credit for our 4th of July party, but the real credit goes to all of the people in the Embassy and our Residence who work for months to put it together and then volunteer all weekend to make sure everything goes smoothly.
Since they are all working on the 4th, we have a party for them and their families on the 5th. The kids decorate their bikes with red, white and blue streamers and we have a bike parade. There are potato sack races. But the highlight is the softball game between the Marines and the Embassy team. I sit in the embassy team’s owner’s box with Julie. I’m happy to report that the trophy will sit with pride for another year in my office.
Early the next morning it was off to Calgary for the next 4th of July.
Before the party I had the chance to meet the new Mayor of Calgary, Naheed Nenshi. He’s a very dynamic and fun guy. We talked about the future of cities, the energy economy in Calgary and the rest of Alberta, and the upcoming Stampede. It turns out we had both bought the exact same new boots from the Alberta Boot Company. We obviously both have great taste. He then White-hatted me.
The Mayor and I then joined about 500 people for the Calgary Consulate’s 4th of July party — two days late. For the third day in a row the weather was perfect and a good time was had by all. One special surprise was the band, led by well-known Calgary blues artist Gary Martin who is originally from Chicago. He assembled a band of American musicians to play some great rhythm and blues for the event. I had a chance to visit with them and we compared notes on our favorite songs and performers (Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf). They played a request from me — one of my all time favorites: Howlin’ Wolf’s “Built for Comfort.” It begins: “Some folks built like this. Some folks built like that. But the way I’m built don’t you call me fat. Because I’m built for comfort. Not for speed.”
No comments please.
The next day I started out visiting with my friend Dave Rutherford on his morning radio show. Then it was off to the University of Calgary for a site visit of the Solar Decathlon house. A team of University of Calgary students will represent Canada in the 2011 Department of Energy Solar Decathlon competition in Washington, D.C. in September. The contest challenges 20 student-led teams to demonstrate inventive, clean-energy solutions by building solar-powered houses that are cost-effective and energy-efficient.
The students gave me a tour of their entry, called The Cenovus TRTL (pronounced ‘turtle’) – Technological Residence, Traditional Living, a safe, durable, net-zero home designed to address critical issues in Aboriginal housing. The team is working with the Treaty 7 First Nations of Southern Alberta on the housing concept and design. The team’s spiritual and cultural advisor Dr. Reg Crowshoe, a Piikani Blackfoot Elder, joined us at the site. Following the tour, he thanked me for coming by, presenting me with a traditional Blackfoot blanket and sang a song for me in Blackfoot. Then Monique Kimber, a member of the team’s Aboriginal Advisory Council, presented me with a handcrafted necklace with a turtle design reflecting the solar home’s shape and Aboriginal influences.
Then it was time to get ready for the Stampede. I had everything I needed, except western shirts. I now have two. One looks like an American flag. The other has a skeleton dancing among beer bottles on the back, which I was assured in the store was completely appropriate for the Stampede. We’ll see.
Sporting my flag shirt, I went to the Prime Minister’s reception where the guests of honor were the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. There were vast numbers of people waiting 10 deep around the building to catch a glimpse of the Royal Couple.
Next it was off to the annual dinner Gen. Natynczyk gives at the Stampede for friends of the Canadian Forces. The guests of honor were Adm. Sandy Winnefeld and his wife Mary. Adm. Winnefeld is the Commanding Officer of NORAD and NORTHCOM. He was recently nominated by President Obama to be the Vice Chair of the Chiefs of Staff, the second ranking position in the U.S. military. I have been privileged to get to know Adm. Winnefeld over the last year and his promotion is enormously well deserved. The U.S. military is in outstanding hands.
Tomorrow we Stampede!