Jan 05

Merry Solstice

I put this up at a new blog I started, but figured it wouldn’t hurt to throw it on here as well. You know, in case anyone was wondering what we were up to.

wpid-mindofbirdman.jpg

This year we had had it with the whole Christmas thing. I have not celebrated it in many years, but this is the first time that Gerri had joined me in my hatred of this most wretched of holidays. We did the bare minimum for the youngest, who hasn’t been poisoned by having to take out a loan for a damned X Box and all of the niceties that go along with this bullshit season.

We went to the bush and cut down a Charlie Brown tree, the girls masking taped up one string of lights outside, and they decorated the tree.

End of story.

When their dad came to pick them up for some holiday time, Gerri and I took off for the Liard River Hot Springs in Northern BC. It was a nipple hardening -26°C. I called the lodge, but they were closed for the winter, so we decided to throw the mattress in the van and camp out with the dogs in the hot springs parking lot. We really aren’t fancy.

It was about 10 or 11 hours to drive there, so we probably should have left earlier than 10 AM. As it was, we ate some A&W in Fort Nelson and then had the bagels we had packed for a supper under the northern lights. It was Gerri’s first time seeing them, and while they weren’t the greatest, there were a few moments where they were fairly active.

We walked down to the springs in the dark, but decided not to chance it. It was so cold that the flashlight quit working, and we weren’t dressed for a frozen two and a half minute run down the icy boardwalk in the pitch black.

How do I know that it’s a two and half minute run? This guy right here.

I’m not sure if that’s a thing he does all of the time, or if it was a one off, but either way, I think that a GoPro would be the way to film that sort of thing. I have never used one, but I remember when my buddy Jay Sharp put one on his dog, Dewey. It was a lot less shaky, and while it may have got a bit more piss spray on it, I think it is all in all a better choice for filming a run.

I digress.

The reason that I’m writing this is to talk about letting go of the whole Christmas lie. Gerri and I have never bought each other gifts for any holiday. It’s pointless, and life is expensive enough without having to worry about whether or not you got big enough gifts for the people you love. I think that your love should be enough of a gift. Well, unless you’re a complete asshole, but I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that you are probably a pretty decent person.

I do miss the whole family aspect, but I figure that I can go home in the spring or summer and make some family time when flights aren’t an extra thousand dollars each. I will get more one on one time with everyone too, because you aren’t trying to mash a years worth of visits with ten people into a four hour pig out.

That’s why this year we chose to go on an adventure to celebrate the winter solstice. The summer here is fantastic, with eighteen hour days, and kids out playing in the streets until ten o’clock in the evening.

Winter? Not so much. It gets light around 9:30 AM and is dark by 4:30 PM, so when the longest night of the year was around the corner, we decided to go and celebrate the downhill slide into spring and summer.

That brings us here

20151220_102613 (541x640)

This was the next morning when we decided to try again with proper clothing and precautions in place. We are responsible, carefree adults you know.

After we laid out a tarp to put our clothes on, we got ready to change into our swimwear. There was no sign of another human around, so we decided that it would be better to not get our bathing suits smelling like sulphur if we didn’t have to.

It was like we were free.

20151220_102453 (640x360)

While we were creeping around the shallow pool, we were overcome with just how good life can be when you just do what you want to do, instead of following what the societal norms are. We were both brought up to embrace the festive spirit and give freely of our time and resources to keep up the facade of the perfect time of year.

Well it’s not the perfect time of year. The days are short and cold, nothing grows, and people get depressed. I suppose that’s why people make a big deal of Christmas, but they don’t have to. It’s much simpler to take off and do something you want to do. Something that you haven’t done before, or that you love doing so much that you would do it every winter. For us, I think it will be an annual pilgrimage to the Liard River, but it could really be any magical getaway. For you it might be to gather around a lit up tree and feel the warmth of your family all together in one place. Maybe it’s a cheap, last minute all-inclusive to Cuba or the Dominican, but whatever it is, you should do it because you want to do it, not because anyone else tells you that you should.

20151220_102653 (640x360)

If you do what others think you should do, there is little chance that you will feel the excitement of hearing footfalls crunching on a frost crusted boardwalk as you stare at your clothes thirty long feet away from where your pale, completely naked ass is locked in a warm embrace with your beautiful wife and best friend.1)They are the same person

You will also miss the oddly comfortable conversation with the friendly park caretaker as your white ass floats out behind you at the steps in front of the pile of clothes that you couldn’t quite make it too before said caretaker rounded the corner by the change rooms. Also, it turns out that we weren’t the first to do this daring feat of almost hippie-like naturism.

20151220_102423 (575x640)

As you can see, we weren’t bothered in the least at not having to shell out the probably seven or eight thousand dollars that it was going to cost for us to get back to Ontario and spend the holidays with our harried family.

For one thing, we didn’t have the cash to do it, and for another, we didn’t feel that we would get enough quality time with our loved ones as they rushed around getting everything ready for their version of Christmas. We bribed the girls with money and trinkets to not go home, and spent a few hundred bucks on gas and food to share a truly remarkable experience with each other, and the dogs, in a wondrous part of our picturesque province.

The ride home was pretty amazing as well. We stopped for lunch at the Toad River Lodge. That was worth the trip right there. I had stopped there in the fall of 2000 for supper on my first and only trip to Canada’s Arctic. We decided to stop for more than fuel on the way home after a sort of frosty welcome at the Northern Rockies Lodge in Muncho Lake. The fact that the gas was 40¢/litre cheaper in Toad River also helped make the decision.

At Toad River we met Darrel, the owner, after he was done helping some motorists with their vehicle problems. The people there were very friendly and the burgers were big and tasty. We dreamed of what it would be like to own and operate a roadside stop for weary and hungry travellers in the north, and what we might have to do to end up there. If you are ever travelling the Alaska Highway, I strongly recommend fueling your vehicle and yourself there.

We stopped at mile 135 to watch the northern lights, because they were absolutely fantastic and I was starting to get distracted by them. The temperature had warmed up to -10ºC so we decided to shut the van off and we watched the light show until the windows were frosted up and then we fell asleep.

The next morning we drove the rest of the way back and enjoyed the few extra minutes of daylight that we knew we were getting. It really is the simple things that we need to learn to love again. Being around mountains and the other wonders that nature presents to us should really be all that we need to embrace to find the balance that so many of us are missing.

I’m learning to find mine, and I hope that you can too.

Awesome footnotes   [ + ]

1. They are the same person
Dec 26

I love to see kids happy


That’s all. I can’t hate this season nearly as much, when I’m tucking in a couple of exhausted kids that have spent the day with huge smiles, hugs for everyone, and constant affirmations that “this was the best Christmas ever”. As much as I can’t stand the way our society buys into everything “they” tell us to do, I see those happy faces and my heart just explodes. I’m sorry, I’m weak. I am constantly telling myself that I’m not going to buy anymore foreign products, and I do try not to, but then there is some other doll, or toy, that they just have to have, and I cave. I don’t even try to take the high, moral ground, I just cave. Sometimes I hate myself for not sitting down and explaining to them that buying their “Monster High” products mean that some friend of theirs father doesn’t have a job in a factory making those dolls here. That that overpriced “Hello Kitty” watch just exploited one more Chinese labourer for $.25 an hour, or that the “Pillow Pets” that they got today, means that a Canadian family had to go to the food bank for their turkey dinner. I haven’t got the heart to tell them that the way we have raised them, is the very reason that they probably won’t be able to afford to have children of their own when they grow up.

I wish I could tell them that I’m sorry. I wish I could tell them that all of their friend’s parents shouldn’t buy those same products for their kids, and just because they do, doesn’t mean that we should as well. I would love to teach them about social responsibility, but how can I be so hypocritical, seeing as I’m in the same boat as they are? Maybe we shouldn’t let them watch the fucking Disney or Family channels anymore. If they don’t see the ads for these shoddy pieces of shit, maybe they won’t want us to buy them. I guess we will then have to pull them out of school, because if they are hanging out with kids that are watching the shows on these networks, they are surely going to want to watch them themselves. Where does it end? I guess you find a few other like-minded parents, and maybe set up a little home-schooling network, so that they have a social life, but are segregated from the majority of kids their age. I guess there will be no sports, because no kids want to be teased about their homemade clothes, weird outlook on life, and the fact that their parents are crackpot granolas that won’t let their kids lead a normal life.

I really don’t know what to do. I wish I did. I wish that these kids could understand that if they didn’t want all of this “stuff”, they could have such an enriched life of travel, reading, and living. Think about how much money you waste on crap, and figure it out over a five year period. What would your figure be? $20000, $40000, maybe $100000? Now think about what that money could mean for your kids. A summer trip to Europe, the arctic, or Africa? Maybe it could bankroll your own business, or would be put towards some RRSPs for you or them, if that’s your thing. I don’t know what you want for you or your family, but I know if I had an extra $40000 every five years, I’d get a little acreage, grow some food and build a little off-the-grid place where I would eat what I produce, and try to live a healthy, self sustaining lifestyle. I say try, because I don’t know if it would work or not. I sure hope it would though. I can’t think of anything better than to get up in the morning, go do the chores, get my relaxed ass to whatever amazing job I have, and come home after I was done, to top everyone’s water up, check for fresh eggs, and pick some beans and tomatoes out of the garden for supper. Maybe after the supper dishes are cleaned up, sit around with a library book for a bit, help the kids with their homework, if I’m able, and when it gets dark, head to the cocoon with the love of my life.

I guess that’s the romantic in me, but it’s the same dream I’ve had for the last ten years. I hope one day it becomes more than a dream, but until that time, I’ll keep drawing up plans in my head, listening to other people’s stories, and looking for that one big break. I’m lucky to have a partner that allows me to dream my own dream, and even though it may not be her ideal life, she’s willing to look at compromises that could be made for a comfortable life for all of us. I guess I have it pretty good, because up until now, my dreams had to be the same dreams as someone else’s, or they would remain just that… dreams.

I realize that switching two young girls over to that sort of life would greatly benefit them in so many ways, but the culture shock would be so great, that it would probably drive them away, and alienate them. For this reason, I couldn’t foresee this transition fully happening for at least another seven or eight years. That gives me lots of time to learn what I can from others, sock away what we can, and maybe change the way we live a little bit in the meantime. I guess every little bit helps, and my one big thing this year is going to be composting. We have the space now, and I think it will help with the amount of waste we produce, and it will help fertilize the gardens. (If we ever get that energetic.)

Anyhow, maybe you could take a look at your spending habits, figure out what you can do without, and try to educate your kids about how much the things that they want cost, how much of that money stays in their communities, and what that money could get them in the long run. I know that right now they just want shit, but over time, they may get a little smarter, quicker than we did.

Blow up your TV, throw away your paper, go to the country, build you a home,

Birdman

Dec 25

I love the holidays

I don’t like Christmas, but I love what it brings to me. I love seeing the look in a child’s eyes when they get that thing they’ve been waiting for, and the sad, disappointed or angry look that they get when they realize that Santa just fucked them over…again. I love that my family always makes plans to get together, and that everyone is nice to me. I love smearing fake blood all over the roof and siding, and then throwing some deer hooves around on the ground. That way, when I shoot the shotgun off in the night, it seems all the more scarier when they see the carnage in the morning. I love the way my baby wakes me up gently by whispering “Merry Christmas” in my ear, and even though I don’t like the commercialized version of Christmas, I can’t deny the spirit that’s in the air at this time of year. I love that there are so many different cultures, celebrating so many different occasions, and I love that the liberals are stealing Christmas, by acknowledging that everyone isn’t a Christian, and might have other beliefs. Most of all, I love being with my family, and you, my friends, just to celebrate that we are alive, and that we all, at one point or another, love each other. To me, that’s the greatest thing about the holiday season, so grab someone that’s close to you, and give them a hug… unless you are on the bus, or an elevator, maybe then you could just offer your hand in friendship, and wish them a lovely winter holiday of their choosing. It shouldn’t matter what their beliefs are as long as it isn’t hurting anyone, because deep down, we all know that religion is bullshit, and humanity will prevail in the end. I know, I know, I had to throw that in there; I’m still an asshole, and no fucking holiday is going to change that.

Ho Ho Ho and all that jazz...

Imagine all the people living life in peace,

Birdman

Dec 25

So this is Christmas…

Well good morning and HAPPY CHRISTMAS DAY, my friends! We are so happy to have had the most amazing year, and we are so thankful for all of the friends and family who have shared it with us. I truly can’t imagine a brighter future, or better people to share it with.

While you are all drinking your eggnog this morning, and while you watch your kids unwrap their holiday booty, please take a moment to think of those who can’t be with their loved ones, and those who are no longer with us. I will be thinking of my Dad, and of all the wonderful Christmas memories I have had with him (and the rest of the family) over the years.

Even then I knew that white wasn't flattering....

My Dad was a great guy, well liked and lots of fun. I loved being around him because he made me feel important. The greatest gift my father ever gave me was the realization that being a girl didn’t make a lick of difference in what I could achieve. It never occurred to me that I wasn’t as smart, as funny or as entitled to success as a boy. My father always dreamed of having a son, and eventually got one, but for the first 8 years of my life, my sister and I were the only ‘boys’ he had, and he always gave us experiences that were not gender-specific. I remember being shocked later in life that some girls thought boys were smarter, or deserved more than girls did JUST BECAUSE THEY WERE BOYS. I was dumbfounded. I literally had no idea that anyone considered boys to be ‘better’ than girls. I think this simple fact influenced how I thought about myself, and what I could achieve as I grew up. When you give a child the gift of unwavering confidence and love, you give them the greatest tools to begin a life on their own. He was pretty great like that. 🙂

He wasn’t perfect though, far from it in fact. He had a bad temper and he usually didn’t seem to give a rats ass about Christmas. Having an amazing Christmas in my house was all my mom’s doing, not my Dad’s. I remember one year when my brother was pretty little, maybe 5 or 6 years old. The basement where we did our unwrapping and celebrating was covered with torn up wrapping paper, packaging and the rest of Christmas’s carcass. My Dad, being the hater of mess that he was, began stuffing the wood stove with piles and piles of wrapping paper, and cardboard. It probably took an hour to burn all the shit that was left from the melee. While he stuffed the stove with all the crap that surrounded him, he inadvertently burned some of my brother’s toys in the process, and he wasn’t overly apologetic about it, either.

A little while later, my little brother came downstairs frantically searching for one of the tiny little army men that were included with one of his gifts that year. I am not kidding when I tell you that the little man constituted about 2% of the entire gift, and probably .00002% of his gifts that year. We all ran to where he was standing in the room when we heard his anguished cries, certain his arm had been ripped off, or that he was entangled in some sort of machinery, just in time to hear him declare:

“This is the WORST Christmas EVER!!!!” (Said in a lispy-5-year-old dialect). My father gave him all kinds of shit about being ungrateful, but really, burning your kids presents is kind of an epic parenting fail in my books, lol.

We have laughed a lot about that day over the years, and it always delighted us to shame my brother with reminders of his holiday thanklessness. In fact, we would likely still be shaming my father about being the scrooge that burned Christmas if he was still alive. That’s how we roll in my family…equal parts mushy love and crippling taunting. 🙂

In reality, that little boy has turned out to be one of the most incredible, giving and thoughtful men I know. He and his wife, (my sister-in-law Katie) have all of the nieces, nephews, and children of their friends over for an annual holiday craft-a-poolooza. This year, in addition to all the other great stuff they do, they helped the kids make these awesome holiday cards, and then drew secret Santa names, so the cards would be sent to each other in the mail. Last week, both of my girls were delighted to receive their Secret Santa cards in the mail. I forget how much fun it is for them to actually get real mail addressed to them. They were beyond excited.

This brings me back to my original thought, about loving the family you have, and honoring the ones who are no longer here. I raise a glass to my father, who is certainly here in spirit. I think of you every day, and as I get older, I appreciate you more and more.

Christmas means different things to everyone, and for me, it means spending time with people I care about. I enjoy a beautiful dinner spent with people I love, far more than a gift. Anything that requires someone to share or give their time to me, makes their gift a beautiful reminder that they truly do care about me. Giving of yourself is truly the best gift that can be offered, in my humble opinion.

To finish this up, I want to include one of my very favorite Christmas videos. I will apologize in advance for the use of a certain word in the lyrics. I love the song, but I hate that word.

Dec 22

I’ve been a little preoccupied

Man, it’s sure been a fast few days. Now I’m home, had some beautiful cocoon time with my gorgeous lady, and had a few hours sleep. I had a new tooth constructed out of a small piece of wood that Paul carved for me, had it painted a yellowish white and tapped into the hole, and I’m now waiting for a shave and a haircut at John’s Barbershop in Cobourg. Thanks to Chin, I know that he’s still around, and I can get my hair cut, old school. I used to get my hair cuts and shaves here before I moved away, but that was so long ago, and he has changed locations since then. There are not too many places anymore that do shaves, so it’s pretty awesome to find one anywhere. I used to get a shave, haircut, and neck massage at The Barbershop in Fort St. John, BC for $65, and I’ll let you know how much it is here, when I’m done. Holy shit, it was only $26 for the shave and haircut, and he did a very nice shave. I guess I’ll be getting my “Just out of the bush, man pampering” when I get home, from now on. While I was there, I dropped my drawers to see if he could give an estimate on my other “bush beard”, and was told it would be at least $100, because he charges by the hour on big jobs like that. I guess I’ll be singeing it off like last time. Sorry about the smell, Baby, but you know it’ll go away by next week.

The after

The before

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now I’m curious. Do any of you know of a barbershop that does shaves? I know a lot of dudes love getting a nice close shave from time to time, and most don’t know where to go to get one. I am also curious as to the price of a haircut and shave at said barber’s.

Man, it’s so nice to be home. I haven’t seen the girls yet, because they were with their dad to go pick up their new grandmother at the airport. I say “new grandmother” because it’s their step mother’s mother and they’ve never met her before. I bet they are totally excited to get another new family member, and I’m sure that she will just love those two little munchkins to death. How could she not? I know they melted my heart, and everyone in my family’s heart as well. I can’t imagine a better Christmas present than seeing those two opening their gifts on Christmas morning. It was my excitement last year, and now this year, someone else gets to experience that feeling of happiness. I have to say that I’m pretty sad about not seeing them wake up to a tree full of presents, but I’m also glad that “Santa” isn’t getting the chance to be too drunk to dole out the gifts this year.

I checked my list, and you've been very naughty

Yes, that’s correct, Santa got herself a little tipsy last year, and was completely unable to fill the tall order of gift distribution. Luckily she wasn’t spending the holidays alone, and a good little elf stayed sober, drove her drunk ass home from his family Christmas party (where she was the life of the party, and might have put her finger in someone’s ass crack), and managed to decipher her passed out ramblings about Liv Dolls, Zhu-Zhu Pets and what goes into what stocking (he may or may not have heard that one correctly). I had never experienced another child’s Christmas morning until then, and it was magical. I took video, while those excited little hands tore open wrapping paper and ribbons to expose the long sought after trinkets and baubles, that would be played with for days, and maybe as much as a week later. I know that I won’t soon forget that morning, as I’m sure that “new grandmother” won’t either.

Well, it’s nighttime now, and we are tucked away in the cocoon for the duration. We picked up the kids from school, and there was much rejoicing. I got some pretty heavy-duty hugs and huge smiles, so that sure made my already amazing return, that much better. We then went home for supper, and got ready for the Christmas recital at the school. It was so fucking cute to watch those kids show us what they had. Some were inching their way for the wings, while others were giving it that extra little bit of diva flair. It didn’t matter which ones were doing what, they were all adorable, and deserved all of the applause that they got. Jesus, I sure do love being a step-dad, and one thing I love even more, is being a fiance to the greatest person in the world. She makes my life perfect, and truly deserves more than I can give her. Luckily I will get a chance to try and reach that summit, hopefully until the day I die.

Do a little dance, make a little love, get down tonight,

Birdman

P.S. With all of the chicks and gay dudes (I hope) that read this blog, you don’t think I’d leave you hanging, did ya?

Relax, I'm only kidding, look down for the real one

You didn’t think that was it, did you? I saw that on a friend’s profile, and thought it was funny. Here you go, a nice cheesy hot Santa, because Mrs. B wouldn’t put her glasses on and pick one for me.

I'm sorry if he's not your type. I really tried to find the right man for you.