Oct 14

What I’m Thankful For

wpid-mindofbirdman.jpgAs the Thanksgiving weekend started, I was feeling a little bit down.
I was heading to the worst camp of my oilfield life, my wife was having family dinners without me, and I couldn’t seem to shake this cold/chest infection.
Boo hoo.
Poor me.
As I backed my third load of the day down a lease road, I noticed a range of snow capped mountains in my mirror. I couldn’t help but smile. I thought about how lucky I was to be there at that moment, to be able to look past the piles of shale, the fuel sloop, and the treeline to see such a magnificent sight in the distance.

Then I started to think about how lucky I was to have a legal means of earning a lot of money in a short period of time, and to feel completely at ease doing it. Many people have tried this life, and many people have gone home disgruntled and disheartened. It’s taken it’s toll on me a time or two as well, but I keep coming back. Sure, the money is great, but it’s the people that tip the scales. They’re the ones that make rain out days enjoyable, and sometimes even hoped for.
That made me think about how fortunate I was to know the people that I know. From Jimmy giving me a job and a Red Rocket to drive while I’m here, to John and Leona opening their home and supper table to me for the many nights that I’m not in camp. It takes a lot of stress off of a guy when he isn’t worrying about hotel bills and cab fares.

From the moment I flew in to town, I was made to feel welcome. Whether it was delicious home made, stuffed burgers, a night of UFC and fantastic pizza, or a messy donair lunch with friends, I have been made to feel like family and it’s really a great feeling.
I have been invited to countless Thanksgiving dinners, and even for a Thanksgiving boys weekend at a cabin on the Halfway River! How amazing would that have been? As much as I would have loved to go, I am here to work, so work I must. I never know when the weather is going to shut things down, so I have to take it when I can.
Sure, I wish that the four days that it’s rained since I got here had started on Friday, but they didn’t, so that’s that. Get on with life and try to smile about the many good things that are constantly happening. Instead of dwelling on the fact that I’m curled up in a tiny sleeper in a gravel pit that is hours from town while eating cans of ravioli, I can look at it as not having to spend another night in that horrible camp or choosing from their seven different types of processed luncheon meat sandwiches. It has also saved me three hours of driving and probably a couple hours of fueling and getting situated.
Oh, and it gave me the time to write. I’m thankful for that too.
Seriously. You guys are a big part of my life now, and I want you to know how much I appreciate you.

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Pretend that the words aren't sideways.

Every night that I get in and don’t have the time or energy to spare for a post, I get a little sad. Obviously not sad enough to do anything about it, but more like the sadness you feel when you realise that you don’t quite measure up to someone you admire.
Hopefully you don’t know what I’m talking about.
I do, or at least I did.
So to hell with Thanksgiving dinners, and instead I will give thanks in my own way. I will give thanks for a great job that allows me to take beautiful vistas for granted, some of the most thoughtful and generous friends that you’ve ever seen, and for my family, because you make it so easy to be me.
I mean it. How many people have had the opportunities that I’ve had? How many people have forged as many great friendships and relationships as I have? Even as I write this, thousands of kilometres from home, holed up in the middle of nowhere, I will have a peaceful, stress-free sleep, knowing that there is nothing to worry about.
I know I’m going to be just fine, and that’s what I’m most thankful for.
What would you do if I sang out of tune, would you stand up and walk out on me,
Birdman

Sep 04

Darien Lake Is Better Before The Kids Go Back To School

mindofbirdman

Yeah, their slew of college and university students go back to school in early August, and that’s when shit falls apart. There were sporadic, and full, ride closures, and it seemed like our one kid got short shrifted almost the whole time, because her two favourite rides were shut down for the entire trip. I suppose that’s why there are such good deals later in the season, but it was still kind of bummy.

Don’t get me wrong, I had a great time, but that was mostly around the fire where I met some new friends, and got to see a few old ones that I hadn’t really talked to in probably twenty years. It really was great in that respect, so I feel like the trip was pretty cool in that respect.

Ride wise, not so much.

I really don’t know why, but I suspect it has something to do with my partner in crime being absent from my riding side. There’s just something about my good buddy Gadget that makes me want to thoroughly enjoy an amusement park. I guess it’s just that amusement is in his jeans. I mean genes.

Next year I’m shooting for an adult trip to Cedar Point in Ohio. It looks like the greatest fucking thrill park in the world. I hope they have the option for buying a USB flash drive like they do at Darien Lake, because I will rock that shit like Wild T and the Spirit at the Ganny.

I can’t even imagine the rush you get on Top Thrill Dragster. Take a quick look at it and get back to me.

Seems pretty straightforward.

Seems pretty straightforward.

TopthrilldragsterYep. That says 120 mph. It also says 400 ft drop.

Gah.

Anyhow, I won’t go on about what might be, when I can be telling you about what was.

I truly had a great time hanging out with my new and old friends in the Darien Lake campground. There are some fun and funny motherfuckers in that gaggle of pals and I’m so glad I got to share a bit of space with them. Sadly we don’t have kids in hockey*, so I doubt we will get much chance to do fun shit with them for the next ten months, but I would be pretty happy if we got invited along some other time, even if it was just out for a drink and an orgy or something along those lines.

Oh yeah, and I got a snowblower for the tractor.

It wasn’t the snowblower I drove for hours to find, only to see that it wasn’t the one that was advertised on Craigslist.

Fuck you, Craig. I got lost and drove through a pretty ghetto area of Buffalo looking for that piece of shit that wasn’t even the one I needed. Why don’t you penalize people for falsely advertising shit on your website?

I ended up getting one from a guy on the way home, and other than having to drive around to get to a bank machine that would accept Canadian debit cards, everything went pretty smooth. Here it is in all of it’s glory.

Ain't she a beaut?

Ain’t she a beaut?

Another highlight to my week was Vanilla Thunder and the Dumpster Jumper trying to out New York us in the pronunciation of Irondequoit Dodge, North Tonawanda, and assorted offerings from J&E Grocery 139 Reynolds Street. It truly was a glorious exchange, and you should of seen the look of jealousy when I told them I had driven by Max Pies and Transitowne Chrysler Dodge Jeep. It was worth every bit of fear that I felt as it started getting dark and I still hadn’t got the bacon for breakfast.

Sooooo, I’ll leave it with you as to when you go to Darien Lake. If you want to hang out and don’t care too much about the rides, then by all means, take the good deal and go anytime after the first week of August. If you like the rides and attractions to be open a lot, then you might want to get there in June or July.

Just sayin’

I get high, I get high on speed, top fuel funny car’s the drug for me,

Birdman

Aug 26

Saturday Night’s All Right

mindofbirdman

My cousin Ryan got married on the weekend and I was invited to share in his special day. I should probably say our special day, because for a few reasons I felt really happy and uplifted there.

For one thing, one of my favourite people in the world was at the wedding, and she got to ring the final bell at her chemo clinic on Friday. When I read Steph’s post, I immediately got weepy with tears of happiness for her family. They were kind of like the tears I’m crying now, only more of them and I wasn’t lounging in my underwear.

photo credit - John Bevan

photo credit – John Bevan

Anyone who knows Judy will tell you that she is one of the brightest lights in any room. Her smile is so warm and inviting that you can’t help but want to give her a hug, and if you get the chance, I highly recommend it. She hugs from the heart, that one.

I really don’t remember her when I was a kid, but as soon as I started hanging out in town she made herself known to me. I can’t remember the exact moment, but there was probably a party going on and she most likely said something like ” Oh I know who you are, Chris Bird. I used to live down the street from your mother. I also know your father and if you’re anything like he was, you’d better stay away from my daughters.”

I instantly had a crush on her. Still do, to be quite honest, and I know I’m not the only one. She’s a beautiful soul that’s wrapped in a beautiful shell, and I’m so glad that she’s going to be making the world a better place for a while longer.

Here’s to you, Jude. Keep smiling and we’ll keep smiling with you.

Another reason I was glad to be there was because I got to sit with my Aunt Audrey. She’s my Nana’s sister, and has always been a big part of our lives. We used to go across the field from Nan’s house and through the back gate to visit and swim in their pool. This was before the strip mall and the Sir Sandford building was there, so there were no obstructions in our way. She was always home. I guess we wouldn’t have gone if she wasn’t, but Uncle Mike was usually out somewhere being busy. He was really good at finding things to do. There was the odd time that you’d catch him home at lunch or something and that was always a treat, because he was one of those really loud guys with all kinds of jokes. He would keep me laughing with all of his crazy sayings and facial expressions as he listened to the old bitties talking. He was one of those guys that had a huge heart that matched his voice, so when Ryan and Danielle lit a candle for him during their ceremony, it brought a big smile to my face.

Chips off the old block.

Chips off the old block.

I really miss seeing him around when I go over for a visit or drive by the lot where I’d sometimes find him working on something or the other.

Anyhow, let’s not think about that, because this was a night of happiness and celebration, and Uncle Mike sure wouldn’t want anybody sniffling over him. We should just be thankful that we knew him at all.

Oh, I got to also hang out with two beautiful ladies that landed me in shit with the local liquor authority when they lured me outside for some fresh air. The dude who is in charge of making sure people aren’t drinking out of the venue told us we had to take our drinks back inside. I’m glad he nailed us and not the forty other people that were scattered around the parking lot drinking beer out of their trunks. He had to have seen them, but I suppose we were the easy targets as we were standing at the door, and at least he could feel like he was doing his job.

Normally I’d be pissed at the interruption, but seeing as it didn’t seem to be going anywhere with those two ;), so I welcomed the chance to sit down again and wait for the beautiful bride and groom to return from their photos.

This is almost too cute.

This is almost too cute.

Giddy up!

Giddy up!

Here’s to you, Ryan and Danielle. Thanks for letting me share the night with you and your fine friends and family, and what I hope are many years to come. When you marry your best friend, you have already made it farther than most. Congratulations.

After the wedding, I had to skedaddle over to Mr. and Mrs. Brady’s wedding reception at Shifter’s place. Things were in full swing when I arrived, so I was able to blend seamlessly into the food table where I enjoyed the fruits of many people’s labour.

Now that's a pretty smile.

Would you look at that pretty smile.

I had a great time shooting the shit with Stella and her pole dancing friend, and by the time Dora and Swiper were having a pong off for “favours” (he won), I knew the night had better come to a close soon. I don’t know exactly how many jello shots I had for dessert, but I knew it was too many to drive, so we crashed in the trailer with Jack there to make sure nobody tried to sneak up on us. I guess someone must have tried at around 5:30, because he was sure barking and letting us know that he heard something.

They say that karma’s a bitch, but looking back at all of the friends I’ve made over the years, I’d say that that’s not always the case. Yet.

Blame it all on my roots, I showed up in boots, and ruined your black tie affair,

Birdman

 

Aug 20

Remember When We Raced Down The River?

birdmandesk

Well, I did a photo recount for Aiming Low and they published it! Yayyyyy for me.

What are you waiting for? Go click the link. Hurry. Make them glad to have hired me.

(Please don’t make me beg, because I will.)

On that note, we should have a splendid post for you later this week, because we received some Therapy Thursday questions/problems. I love it when our readers are fucked in the head. :P.

What I need from you guys is a direction to take. Who do you want to answer it? You can choose from Mrs. Birdman, with all of her common sense; Me, with a little bit of common sense; or Smarty, with almost zero common sense, and probably more vices than Nick Nolte. You can choose two, because, come on, we need some sort of balance here.

Leave a comment somewhere that I’ll find it, and I’ll see you bastards on Thursday.

Maybe. If I get chosen that is.

I want you (I want you), I need you (I need you), but there ain’t no way I’m ever gonna love you,

Birdman

Aug 19

Road Rash

Birdman

Alright, so after my parents divorced, we moved with my mom to a house that was two doors north of my Uncle Larry’s place. He was my dad’s brother, and it wasn’t uncommon to see Dad’s pickup parked there on a Saturday or Sunday morning.

It also wasn’t uncommon for me to have stupid ideas.

This is one of those times that the two landed on the same day.

Now this was a weekend that we were at Mom’s and my brother Larry and I were playing in the yard. We just happened to be looking for something fun to do, when Dad’s truck pulled into Uncle Larry’s driveway.

Don't you dare make fun of my Paint skills; my wife was sleeping, and I don't know how to use Photoshop.

Don’t you dare make fun of my Paint skills; my wife was sleeping, and I don’t know how to use Photoshop.

“Hey, we should go and crawl under Dad’s truck.” said I, in my infinite wisdom.

“What for?”

“We’ll drag underneath it when he backs up, then we’ll climb into the box and scare the shit out of him. He won’t be able to see us in his mirror,  then…BANG! We are yelling at him in the back of his truck. It’s going to be so funny.”

“Haha, that’ll be so awesome. Let’s sneak through the ditch, so he doesn’t see us. We’ll be like ninjas.”

I thought that was a great idea, so I answered with a silent nod and point towards my uncle’s place.

Back in the early 80’s, people weren’t as flippant with the word “ninja” as they are today. Back then it meant something; especially to a young boy who had just watched this.

So we stealthily crept through the ditch and crawled under the truck, hanging on to the rear bumper so he couldn’t take off without us, and we waited. After a short while that seemed like two days, we heard the screen door open and heard him say goodbye to Uncle Larry.

This was it, our time to shine.

He fired up the beast and started backing out onto the road. Everything was going according to plan. We smiled at each other and laughed inwardly. As the truck came to a stop we spun around and grabbed the bumper while moving into a crouch position behind the truck. YES! It was totally working. As he started going forward, Larry lost his grip on the bumper and was left behind as I “land skated” behind the old girl.

Shit. I was going to have to go this one alone.

As he picked up speed, I reached up to grab the top of the tailgate and pull myself into the back of the truck. This was going to be so cool. I secretly wished I would be able to record the the manoeuvre and the look on his face as I leapt into the box and started yelling at him.

That was when the tailgate popped open from not being shut all the way and smashed me in the face. That sent me skittering onto the road at about twenty miles an hour. I’m not going to tell you that I wasn’t concerned, because I was, but when I finally stopped and realized that I was okay, I began to grin. Partially because I was glad to not be mortally wounded, but also because I knew I would have made it had the gate stayed shut. A few scraped up limbs was worth knowing that.

Seriously, stop laughing at me. It's not my fault.

Seriously, stop laughing at me. It’s not my fault.

The truck slid to a stop and Dad came running back toward me, as my brother was yelling and making his way toward me too. He was laughing and grinning when he got to me, and had a look of incredulity at what had just happened.

Then there was Dad. I’ll never forget the look on his face through the stars and my pulsing, bloodshot eyes. It was an expression of shock that turned to horror. Oh, and then the fear, that I might have mistaken for rage.

Can you imagine being a parent and seeing your kid in the middle of the road with blood all over his smiling face? I couldn’t then, but I sure can now. He had no clue what had happened, just as I suspected, but instead of that being funnier, it was just a lot scarier. I think about the myriad of emotions that would course through me if it was one of the girls that this happened to. It’s really hard to fathom.

Not that I will ever have to worry about that though, because they are far too smart to pull that kind of stunt, and they rarely go outside. This is good, because that means that most of the things I expected to die from as a young man are off the table, and there’s a way less chance of them developing harmful sunspots.

I can’t say I’m proud of all of the things that I’ve done, but I can say I’ve never intentionally hurt anyone,

Birdman