Nov 11

I remember this

I don’t know where to start on this Remembrance Day post. I guess I can try to remember some of the things that My Great-Grandpa Hircock told me before he died. I was only a young boy when he went, but I used to spend as many Friday nights with him as possible. Friday was card night, when my Nana, Papa, Uncle Ed, Aunt Helen, Granny and Grandpa used to get together and play games for nickles. When I would get to go, I would ask Grandpa about when he was in the war, and he would tell me stories about the time he served.

One of the funny ones was when he was in Italy and they had to get their tanks through a small town that they were occupying, but there was a big, old olive tree in the center of a circle in the street. They couldn’t get their tanks around it, so they hooked a chain on, and started pulling it out of the ground. I guess the women were not too happy about that, seeing as it was their source of olives, so they all grabbed whatever they could throw, and started their assault. He said that they got the tree out, but not before a few of them had their helmets knocked off by rocks and assorted pieces of garbage. I asked him why they didn’t fight back, and he just looked very cross at me for a few seconds and said, “They were women, and they were only fighting for what was theirs. We shouldn’t have been there. They didn’t ask for war.” I didn’t understand war at that age, I just knew that if someone was throwing rocks at me, I’d throw them right back, and harder.

I look back and think about how hard it must have been to be there. Having to deal with some angry women, and knowing that you might have just killed some of their husbands or sons. I guess I’d show them a little bit of slack too. My Grandpa said that I was the only one of his grandchildren that ever asked about the war, and I learned pretty quick to not ask in front of Granny. I asked him once in front of her, and she sharply told me that he didn’t like talking about those times, and to not ask about it again, so I’d ask him to play pool with me, and I’d hit him up for a story. He was the only person I knew with a pool table in his basement, and while I could barely reach the table, I loved to watch him sink every ball, while telling me something about his time overseas. I don’t know if it was playing pool that relaxed him, that he could be himself with a seven year old kid, or that someone genuinely wanted to know what he had been through, but every so often he’d tell me a story. For that I’ll be forever grateful.

As I said, he told me some funny stories, many of which I can’t remember, but there were also other stories. Like when he was being hidden in an attic in Holland, and the children would sneak food and water to him, so that the Germans wouldn’t find him. I wish I could remember their names, but as I’ve said, I was a little kid. Maybe Mom remembers, I’ll ask her tomorrow when I talk to her. You really don’t realize what you need to remember, until you’ve already forgotten. When he would tell me about living in the attic, was the only time I’d ever seen him cry. He traveled back to the town as a much older man and visited the family that housed him, so many years ago. The parents were long since passed, but he did meet the children that had brought him nourishment whenever they could. He had said what a treat it was to get a glass of goat milk or some fresh bread, because he had taken fresh milk and baking for granted all his life, living on the farm. He was so thankful to those people for hiding him in their home, partly because he knew what the nazis would do to him if he was found, but mostly because he knew what would happen to the family. It was very intense watching him tell that story, with tears in his eyes, and his voice shaking. I remember hugging him, and telling him not to cry anymore, mostly because I was scared and didn’t know why, but partly because I was afraid Granny would hear and give me hell.

She did come down and told me to get upstairs and let him alone, but he told her I could stay, and we’d be up when we’re damn good and ready. I should add that he drank rye and water on card nights, and he rarely took shit from anyone. We stayed for a few more minutes until he regained his composure, because he wouldn’t want anyone knowing he was crying. After we went upstairs and the card game resumed, I said that he had three jacks out loud, and he punched me in the nose. Hard.

He died a few years later, and he left me his war medals, his army documents, and his WWII Armed Forces book. Granny said it was left to me, because I was the only one of his grandchildren that ever asked him about his military service. I was, and still am, proud of that, but kind of sad that no one else asked him about it. It may be a dead end, but I think I’m going to find those people’s names, and look into who their great-grandchildren are. Even just to send them an email, letting them know that someone in Canada remembers what their ancestors did for my ancestor, and how much it meant to him, and eventually, me. I really miss you Grandpa, and thank you. I wish I had understood the extent of your sacrifice when I was young, but be assured that I fully understand now. We could sure use a country full of you, now.

Lest we forget,



Oct 31

My ultimate dream prize

As some of you may know, I received an invite to the 107.9 The Breeze $10000 dream prize party. I had a chance to win my choice of six different prizes worth ten grand. I didn’t win the prize, but I never really figured I would. I was just excited to meet the morning show crew that I listen to when I start my daily routine. Sure ten thousand bucks worth of groceries would have been a sweet bonus, but it was just nice to know I was going to put some faces to the names that I hear every day.

I listen to The Breeze every morning when I’m in the area (you can listen online), and I really like the Big Breakfast, featuring Jay Sharp, Joe Snider, Inga Belge and Megan Murphy. The personalities of the gang are very complimentary, and they completely make up for the repetitive music playlist. You know I love Rag Mama Rag a lot, but The Band has so many more, deserving songs that I feel could be played as well, and as much as I like Bruce Cockburn, I don’t feel we need to hear Tokyo, or Coldest Night of the Year, every single day. I have never even seen them in someone’s playlist or CD library before, so why do they garner so much air play. Anyhow, enough of my griping, I have been listening to them for a year and a half now, since I moved back from the west, and I have found them to be very interesting people from hearing their stories and on-air lives. That is why I was so excited to score this invitation to the party.

When I went in to pick up my invite from the beautiful, funny and, I assume, brilliant Kristy, I was pleasantly surprised when the one and only Jay Sharp walked out into the reception area. It was like meeting royalty for me, and I felt like I should give him some money or some baubles or something. I had received countless hours of free entertainment from this man, and I felt I should repay him in some small way. Then the thought came to me. Maybe I should hug him and cup his buttocks with my strong hands. I am embarrassed to say that I got too nervous and just stammered something that sounded like a leopard killing an antelope. There was one of my people to meet crossed off the list, now only three more to go.

How sexy is this man?

Fast forward to Sunday morning. We piled into the van, with three quarters of us nursing sore heads and bellies, and headed to Kawartha Downs for the party. I gotta say, calling it a party was a little misleading. We showed up with a cooler full of beer and rum, an ounce of weed, a hookah pipe, and two strippers that we picked up in Belleville. The security guards stopped us at the entrance, and promptly called the cops. (Apparently, the topless law in Ontario only applies to public property.) I voiced my opinion on the subject, and explained that I had an invitation, which I quickly produced for them. By now Joey had given the pot to the strippers, Chastity and Destiny were their names, and had set the pipe on the ground. You see, Joey’s no dummy when it comes to dodging the po po, so when the law came screaming up, Destiny got pinched, and they had an outstanding warrant for Chastity. Turns out they were lying to us, and their real names were Judy and Ted, so I didn’t feel too bad when they got hauled off, and I was thankful their shorts had stayed on. We put the cooler back in the van and went inside, only to find out that there wasn’t much happening in the way of a party. Joey pulled a couple of T-Dolls out of his pocket and handed me one. I crushed it up on the picnic table and snorted it, while a couple of ladies checked out the camper trailer right beside me.

Okay, maybe it was more like this: Joey, Mrs.Birdman, Khrissy and I waited in line for half an hour, went in to meet my idols, saw that they were busy and then went outside to let the sun hurt my brain. I got to meet Rob “The Rocket” Mitchell, and then we went back inside where the folks were setting things up, so I went over and introduced myself to Joseph P Snider. I was kind of hoping for a deeper voiced, Les Nessman, but was presented with one hell of a strapping fellow. The sheer power of the man’s handshake was emotionally crippling, and his rapt gaze pierced my very being to the core. I had to pull myself away as I felt him extracting tiny, but very important bits of my tender soul. I then turned my attention to the beautiful, angelic face of Megan P Murphy, and found my faith in humanity slowly being restored. I envisioned African children, having their bellies filled by her aura, and dictators freeing their citizens from tyranny. I wanted to hug her more than I’ve ever wanted anything, but alas, Mrs. Birdman beat me to it. I was saddened to hear that Inga B. was not attending the event, because I wanted to commend her for her bravery, working in such close quarters with these formidable specimens of humankind. I also got to see Jay Sharp again, but not for very long. I felt him making me wish I was gay, and then he broke the connection to get something ready with the production.

Ethereal beauty, personified

Don't look into his eyes

I did not win the $10000 dream prize, but I walked away with a new respect for people who work in radio. I also got to see some wonderful sets of breasts, hold hands with the love of my life, meet some of my morning heroes and see two people win a prize that made them so happy that I didn’t care whether I won a million dollars. I left that place with a huge smile on my hungover face, a beautiful woman on my arm, and a mission to try for a job at The Breeze when I get back in the spring.

I hate graveyards and old pawn shops,


P.S. Jay Sharp smelled like charisma and Puritan Irish Stew, two of my favorite things.

Oct 30

Of meetings, good food and better friends

Well, I’m not in fine writing form this morning, but I thought I would let you all know that if Gadget says he needs to see you in his office downstairs for a meeting, DO NOT GO. It’s a trap, and not a very clever one either. I’m a little fuzzy on details, but I think I was molested by Cleopatra, a breathalyzer, Inspector Gadget and Penny. I ate a lot of delicious treats, and I think we finally got rid of all traces of Sour Puss and Tequila Rose from the basement office.We also want to thank Lucille Ball and the surgical team for making sure we were transported safely to and from the party. You guys rock our world.

I hope that the freaky McDonald’s clown is able to stop by the house and check in on Mrs. Birdman while I’m gone, because she might need someone to do some odd jobs around the house, and clowns seem to be pretty handy with that type of thing. I am glad to have so many good friends and neighbours that take the time to invite us to events and make us feel welcome wherever we go. We truly know how lucky we are, because it’s pretty rare to enjoy everybody’s company when you go out. Most parties you go to, there’s always the assholes that everyone sidesteps and avoid like the plague. I have actually locked myself in the can with a six pack before, because it’s more exciting than talking to some people, but not with the friends we have. I do believe every last one of them is interesting and funny, but I’m also drunk when I’m around these magnificent folk, so take that with a grain of salt.

Hey, remember that time I did a Jello shot with the gummi worm and almost choked to death? That was last night. The sad thing is, I forgot about it, and twenty minutes later was choking down another one. Jesus, I’m damn near forty years old, why the hell am I acting like a teenager? I thought I had grown out of the shooter phase many moons ago. I guess it’s the crowd, because when I get around this bunch, I feel like partying like a not very well hung porn star. It’s pretty nice to be around people that make you feel at ease enough to get that hammered, you just don’t have to worry about shit.

So thank you all, and I say that from my old lady, my best man, and my own self, for the fun-filled night and for the friendship. It’s never taken for granted. We have to go now. I got an invite to the $10000 dream prize party, and I need to wash the blood off my hands.

You can’t rollerskate in a buffalo herd,


Oct 21

Last night was tough

When I got home last night, it was around 7:30 and I was hungry and tired. My sweet baby made me some damn fine soup that she learned about from a friend, and she spit fired a chicken in the backyard, so that I could have a nice, hot chicken on a kaiser with it. I was thinking about how lucky I was, when the phone rang and Mrs. Birdman had to speak with a client. The girls bedroom door then opened, with two bored little girls holding a handful of tattoo markers. So, seeing as their mom was on the phone, I allowed them to give me some new ink. They actually did a pretty good job for little kids. Awww, who am I kidding? They did a better job than I could have done, I totally suck at art.

Look out, Kat Von D...she's gunning for your job

We decided that it was time to tell them that I was going away for a while. Not because we were just waiting for the right time, but I guess it just never came up before. It is two weeks away now, so I guess it might have been a little late, but what do you do? There was a lot of asking “Why?” and  tears welling up in the eyes, but that was just from me. T didn’t think it was fair that I was going to be gone for Christmas, and when I told her that I was coming back for the holidays, her eyes dried and brightened up and she said, “Are you going to bring us something?” That brought me back from the edge, and we all had a laugh and some hugs. After that we went out in the rain and lit a bonfire, and we roasted wieners and s’mores, while telling ghost stories and reliving the past ten months together. Ten months. It seems like we’ve been together far longer than that. I have a hard time remembering when I wasn’t looking out for them, or fixing something up, like the luge track down the snowplow pile, which had been dug out into a fort.

I explained to them that I don’t like leaving for work before they wake up, and coming home when they are in bed, or getting ready for bed. I told them that I want to eat breakfast and supper with them, and that if I go out for the winter, it will afford us the option for me to look for a better job with better hours. A job that I can be happy at. Can you imagine? I know some of you can, I’m living with one. I actually feel pretty selfish about wanting that for myself, partly because I don’t think that I deserve it more than anyone else, but mostly because it’s me that wants to be here with them. I didn’t once ask if they would like me to be here more. Maybe they are quite happy with me showing up for an hour or two each day, and every other weekend we’ll maybe do something fun. I guess it is selfish, but I don’t even care. I hate when they are already in bed when I get home, and I know I won’t get to see them until the next night, if I get done early enough.

I always think about when I was a little kid, and my dad would go out for a few beer after work, and he’d come into our rooms and wake us up to say he loved us. I never cared that he woke me up, I liked seeing him, but he was my father, and that kind of thing is acceptable when you’re a dad. It seems a bit creepy if a step-dad is doing that, no matter how innocent. It’s too bad that the world has come to that really, but I totally understand. I’ve taken the girls out on several occasions, and I’m scared shitless. I am constantly watching everyone that goes near them, looks their way or breathes upwind of them. It totally freaks me out, because you never know who is lurking, or where. I know the odds are slim, but every other parent that has had a child snatched has probably said the same thing. I think it’s worse if they aren’t your children, because then there are two or more people that can’t live with themselves.

What a fucked up world we live in. I remember being a kid, and the whole community looked out for the kids there. We were told what houses to stay away from, and who we weren’t to talk to. If we did what we were told, nothing bad would happen. I rarely did what I was told, and when I would get home, my parents knew where I had been, who I was with and what I did. I was usually sneaking a smoke that we stole from Bugsy’s parents or maybe shooting bottle rockets at the ducks with Joe. It didn’t matter, I would get spotted, and promptly ratted out. I’m glad I got caught, because that meant there were people all over the place that cared about me, and I have no doubt that if any harm was befalling me, those same people that were telling on me, would be right there helping me.

So thank you Wally Young, Shorty Sandercock, Clara Drope, Nancy Houston, and the countless other people who gave a shit about what happened to me. Even though most of you are gone, you are not forgotten. I don’t know if there is a saying about community shaping the children, but there should be. Someone make it up, so I don’t have to. Ah, what the hell, I’ll try a few. “A person is only as good as the community that they grew up in.” or, “A person with no community, is not a person, they are a fucking savage.” Maybe I’ll leave the quote making up to the professionals. Anyhow, I loved where I grew up, I loved how I was raised, and I love who I’ve become. I guess it doesn’t get any better than that, does it? Oh, maybe a good job to come back to, but whatever, I’ll make out okay, I always do.

Give a kid shit tomorrow,


P.S. The cooking the chicken in the backyard, and the bonfire thing might be bullshit.

Oct 04

Still no God

Before you start, you should read Part 1 and Part 2 before reading this.

I’m going to start up where I left off last time, with me crawling back up the river to find a place to light. When I got myself to a flat enough spot on the shore, I thought maybe I’d have a little nap and get some much needed rest. I thought that was the most important thing at the time. Just a few minutes is all I’d need, and then I could worry about finding Aaron and getting our asses out of there. In Hudson’s Hope, the river is about ninety feet or so below the town, and the cliffs where we were are unclimbable. As I started to doze off, I heard yelling and whistling. Oh right, I was just with someone in the river. A few more yells and whistles, oh right, it was Aaron. I came out of my stupor, and started clambering towards the voice. It was starting to get dark by now, and the temperature was beginning to dip, but I saw him trying to find a spot to climb up the face and I tried a yell, but my voice wasn’t working very well. I was finally successful in getting his attention, as I got a bit closer and there was much rejoicing. I guess Aaron had watched me going down the river and figured I was dead already, so when I showed up there may or may not  have been hugging, I’m not at liberty to say.

We had lost our cell phones, wallets and keys, not to mention the matches, when the tube fell out of the canoe, so we had no fire and I was losing body temperature pretty quick. I had also lost my new glasses, but I wasn’t too worried about driving right then. Aaron hadn’t been in as long as I had, and he seemed to be in better shape. He was whistling and hollering up the cliff, but we didn’t know if anyone in the houses would be able to hear us over the roar of the water. My kidneys were starting to hurt pretty bad from the cold and being bashed around on the rocks and I got Aaron to rub them really fast to warm them up. I don’t know if it made any difference physically, but mentally I could feel warmth from the friction making it’s way through me. We were hoping Lannie had missed us by now and had called someone, but we had been known for dawdling before, so we weren’t counting on it yet. We started planning to wait it out until morning, but I was pretty sure I wouldn’t make the night at that temperature. I think I was hyperventilating, or something that was making me breathe very rapidly, and because of that my mouth and throat were getting really dry. I kept going to the shore and drinking out of the river to try and wet my whistle, but I would just puke it back up. I didn’t mind, because at least there was moisture in there.

By now it was really dark, and I was getting worried and just wanted to lay down, but Aaron was able to keep his wits about him enough to hear a boat in the dark. I couldn’t hear anything but blood pounding in my ears and him whistling. I’ve never been so glad to be with a person who whistled so loud in my life, because all of a sudden he saw a light on the water where he had heard the boat downstream, and when he whistled again, their spotlight started searching in our direction. He yelled to me to get up and wave my brightly coloured life jacket in the air, and I happily obliged. They came a bit closer and killed the engine, and Aaron let out another high-pitched tweet. The spotlight hit us that time and the engine fired back up and started heading towards us. I have to admit that I could never see the appeal of riverboats, but after that night I had a new found love for any craft that can run through rapids, sandbars and rocks, and not sink. When the boat thrust up onto the shore with the two RCMP officers in the bow, and my new boss driving, I almost cried, I was so happy. I may have really cried, I don’t know. I do know I hugged Rich Brown and the constables for saving us, and Rich gave me his survival coat to keep me as warm as possible as well as the welding tube full of our things that they had found on their way up. I felt like I should have went out and got a girl pregnant, just to give them my first born, that’s how happy I was.

It turns out that the people that were having a fire at the landing, saw the canoe go by upside down, and called 911. While the police were rounding up Rich and his boat, and making their way to us, one of the folks at the top of the cliff had called in to say he thought there was someone trapped below his house. I am forever indebted to those people, because I honestly believe I wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for them. We were taken back to the landing where the fire was still going, and I stayed by the fire until the ambulance got there moments later. We went back to Aaron’s after the paramedics got us fixed up and his wife and son were more than a little happy to see him, as he was elated to see them.I had a hot bath and put on some dry clothes, but I was still having troubles with my lungs, so I ended up getting taken in to Fort St. John hospital and got something called a nebulizer to dry the water and crap out of my lungs. I guess my kidneys took a bit of a beating as well, but they were still working fine and I was alive, so what more could you ask for?

I was going to go looking for the canoe the next day, but to tell you the truth, I didn’t have it in me. Aaron said that if I got the canoe back, he was going to buy it off of me and burn it. I think he probably would have, but I wouldn’t have charged him for it. I went out with my friend Randy, who is a very experienced canoodler, to get back in and try it again the next week. We did it, and I’m glad I did, but I have to admit I was pretty shaky until I found out that you can go across the river and the rapids are minimal there. Hindsight, eh? Ah well, what’s done is done, and there’s no point in analyzing it to death. Where we went through was bad, but it wasn’t treacherous. We were ill prepared, and uninformed. We shouldn’t have gone in there without knowing what lay ahead of us, and we should have had our life jackets on, instead of laying in the canoe. I don’t think either of us will make that mistake again, and I hope you never do either.

I think it’s safe to say that the experience that day changed our lives. I still don’t believe in God though, but think Aaron might have gained a bit of faith.I know he quit smoking because it was one more thing that might prevent him from spending every possible moment with his family. I imagine he’s a lot more careful around water too. I know my outlook changed drastically. I no longer waste time on stupid shit, and I try to enjoy every moment I can, because you never know when it might be your last. This weekend at Thanksgiving, I think I’ll raise my glass to my pal Aaron, and give thanks that I had him with me that day. I can’t think of too many people I’d rather have in my corner when the chips are down, so here’s to you my friend. I credit you, most of all for us surviving that day.

What Aaron was fighting for

Aaron and his oldest boy

Make sure you look after each other,