Mar 11

Hello, I’m Steve Podborski

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That’s what I said to my beautiful wife when I I got to the bottom of the hill on Saturday.

This hill.

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Trixie, don’t mess up Aaron’s nice grooming job, and don’t try to eat his lunch.

Without falling.

That’s Williston Lake, and off to the left is the W.A.C. Bennett Dam. They are both pretty huge. The shack at the bottom is the power shed for the tow.

This is our ski hill.

This is from the other side.

This is from the other side of The Dam Run. Pretty clever, huh.

When we moved here, we heard about the volunteer-run ski hill. There is all kinds of stuff to keep yourself occupied in the summer around here, but the winter can get pretty dreary, so we decided to go to the AGM for the ski hill and see if we could help out.

Turns out we could.

Hello, my name is Chris, and I'll be your handle on the bum specialist today.

Hello, my name is Chris, and I’ll be your handle on the bum specialist today.

I know I have mentioned before how much I love this town that we live in, but I feel like I have to sing it’s praises a bit more. I have never lived anywhere with such community spirit and involvement. It’s a place that you just want to help out in. I look around all the time at people putting their heart into projects that benefit the whole community, and it makes me proud and happy to be here.

It’s a lot of responsibility to ensure that your community has a safe, fun place to spend their wintry weekends, so we were glad to be able to help out the amazing group of people that were running this club so smoothly.

Then we didn’t get any snow, and we lost hope. Oh, and Jenny is leaving, so that makes us sad too.

This is the last part of the beginner hill.

This is the last part of the hill that we named Darryl’s Elbow. Get it? I guess I should mention that without Darryl, this would not be here. Any of it.

Then, last week it snowed, and there was much celebration. Darryl, Aaron, and I went up to see a few inches of new powder on the hill, so we tuned up the lift and got it ready to open for the weekend. I was finally going to get to do some work at the hill when it was running. It was pretty spectacular.

This made everything worth it.

This made everything worth it.

At one point, we had seven kids going up the lift at one time, and I nearly wept with happiness. I’m almost crying now as I think about it. It’s hard for me to explain, but I think that being around people that give so much of themselves to a remote community really wears off on me. It’s a pretty amazing feeling when you are around them, and it’s not just the ski club. The town is full of groups that are trying to make a better place for themselves, and for the kids. Hockey, rec badminton, Rod and Gun Club, Book clubs, The Friends of Hudson’s Hope, Curling, and figure skating are a few that come to mind, but there are many more.

That’s pretty phenomenal for a town of around 1000 people that’s an hour from anywhere. I think these folks all deserve a pat on the back and a round of applause for their efforts, because in the end they are what brought us here, and also who make it easy to stay.

Here are a few of them. Notice they don't pose for photos properly. That's because they make the rules, not follow them.

Here are a few of them. Notice they don’t pose for photos properly. That’s because they make the rules, not follow them.

Now back to the title of this post.

At the end of Saturday, I strapped on the first set of skis to touch my feet in twenty years. I took three trips down the hill, and I didn’t fall once. Gerri was waiting for me at the bottom of the hill and told me that I looked like a natural, Steve Podborski was who came to mind. I guess because he was quite relevant the last time I was skiing.

When I first learned to ski, at Camborne Ski Club in the early 80s, I absolutely loved it. It was a little bigger than this is now, but it had the same, small town feel to it. The quiet, electric tow at our hill is much smoother than Kent Harper running the old rope tow in Camborne, but there was a charm to an old vehicle chassis with a makeshift wheel running a huge rope loop up a hill, that you don’t get nowadays. What with all the safety BS that’s around. I remember that if you didn’t grab fast enough, you could easily wear a pair of ski gloves out in a weekend. If you don’t believe me, or even if you do, check out This blog post that I found while researching.

Anyhow, over the next few years, we got a family membership to the Oshawa Ski Club, but I lost my love after Camborne shut down. By the time I hit high school, smoking and drinking took the place of everything else I loved as a kid. Sometimes I blame my dad for making us go all of the time, but in the end I’m sure I would have fell out of love with skiing on my own. Just like I did with hockey.

I'm afraid to go down The Energizer, even though the hydro poles have pads. Maybe next time.

I’m afraid to go down The Energizer, even though the hydro poles have pads. Maybe next time.

I’m falling back in love with it. Thank you, Hudson’s Hope.

Maybe hockey is next year. If I can find some old skates at the thrift store.

Birdman

P.S. Jenny is still leaving, so we are still sad. Our hopes are that she will miss us so much that her heart forces her to come back. At gunpoint, if need be.

Feb 25

Re-Publish Old Posts?

birdmandesk

I was just going through my posts, starting with the first and working my way up, to fix any errors, dead links, dead photos, or whatever I see fit. I was also putting ads in, because I’m poor. I mean really, why not? People buy shit from Amazon all the time. If they click on a link on this site, Amazon sends me a small chunk, and it doesn’t cost anyone anything extra.

Anyhow, I started reading these old posts and getting all nostalgic, when I came across one that ruffled some feathers. I had forgotten about this post, but when I read it again, I wanted to republish it. It’s one of those ones that I wouldn’t dare add any photos to. It’s not funny, and any photos would either diminish it, or rip a hole through my soul, for lack of a better word.

I started looking into republishing old posts, you know, to recycle content that some people might not see, or to post something to fill in the gaps. I just don’t know if it’s a good idea or not.

If I go through with it, what would be an acceptable amount of regurgitation? Once a week? I don’t want to make people hate me my self promoting doppelganger. Fucking attention whore.

I also applied for a job with the Canadian Census 2016 today. It seems like it would be alright, judging from the little flyer they put in the mail. It’s from early March to the end of July, so that’s pretty reasonable weather for banging on doors or whatever the job entails.

I’m also going to be selling some of my composting worms for bait. This is good, because that will help recoup some of the cost of getting them, and setting them up. I also hope to be able to build some flow through bins and sell some composting packages to locals as my red wiggler population grows. I really love these worms. They are so cool and hungry. I’d say they have tripled in population since I got them around August. They could be a blog on their own, really. A boring blog that nobody would read, but a blog nonetheless.

Anyhow, I guess I need to know if one old post a week would bother anyone, and if anyone has ever worked for the census and what it was like. Let me know in the comments or by whatever means you have available that would tickle your fancy.

Birdman

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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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
Aug 04

Hello from GLORIOUS BRITISH COLUMBIA!!!

*I STOLE THIS FROM MRS. BIRDMAN’S BLOG POST TODAY*

fromthedesk

Most of you know that our moving date for going out west has come and gone. I’m here to report that we made it, safe and sound. The only casualties were a long-suffering fan on a stand, and 3 out of 4 panes of glass inside our hutch. Not bad, eh?! We headed west exactly one month ago, in a converted school bus that carried the four of us, all of our stuff, our dog and our dreams for a new future. I have been thinking and preparing for the move for the past year, but I couldn’t have guessed how well our journey would go. When we told people we were moving out west in a school bus, we definitely got a lot of strange looks, but it was a fantastic journey. Our friend Dan helped us pick out the most mechanically sound bus we could find, and then we began the process of ripping out the seats and preparing it for our trip. When the seat removal was complete, we had a huge tin can on wheels, ready for our adventure. We began moving our things onto the bus in what can only be described as a real-life game of tetris. There was not much space that went unused, floor to ceiling. Eventually, the bus was packed to the roof, with a retaining wall that separated us from the stuff. We were 4 people and 1 dog on an EPIC CROSS COUNTRY ADVENTURE! The first hour was spent crying. All of us. It was a pretty miserable place for a bit, but after a good bawl, some hugs and some snacks, life seemed cheerier and we were on our way. As we drove, the scenery got more scenic, and we became settled in our spots on the bus. If you’ve ever driven from Ontario to Manitoba, you will nod knowingly when I say that Ontario is a big place. It took DAYS to get out. While we were making our way across our native province, we saw a familiar site in our side mirror.

D’OH!!!!

We drove over 4,000km in that bus, and this was the only time we got pulled over. I think we were both surprised, since we figured we’d be getting pulled over a lot. The officer was very nice, and even though I was very nervous about being stopped, we were found to be in compliance with all vehicular laws governing Cool Bus operation. Woo Hoo! Score one for the weary travelers. He gave us a souvenir of his visit. 🙂

Officer Friendly leaves his autograph

While we traveled, we were on the hunt for any ‘Giant Stuff’ for my sister-in-law Katie, who loves all giant fruits, furniture and animals she encounters. We were not disappointed. Here’s a selection of just a few of the giant offerings. Not included are the giant snowman, groundhog, UFO, and other assorted things that didn’t make the cut.

There’s a LOT of weird, giant stuff out there…

There were a few provinces to get to after we finally made it out of Ontario. Manitoba was one of my faves, probably because I drove all day through it. I loved being the pilot on the Cool Bus. There was one small domestic that threatened to break out during my time at the wheel, but after I promised not to enter any more curves at breakneck speed (his opinion!) we were back on track. My basic impression of the provinces were that Ontario was huge, Manitoba was flat, and BC was a welcome sign to get to after 5 days.

Been there. 🙂

At night we were treated to endless sunsets of blue, pink, purple and orange. The windows of the bus allowed a huge, technicolor display that kept us impressed, province by province. I spent most of my time in one of the two remaining seats on the bus, so I could take advantage of the scenery. If you get a chance to cross the country in a motor vehicle, I do hope it’s a cool bus, with the kind of spectacular views that I saw.

Just one of the beautiful nights on the Cool Bus

Just one of the beautiful nights on the Cool Bus

I snuck this one in here, but fellow Ingress players will appreciate the milestone I reached on our last day of travel… #vivelaresistance

Us at Kakabeka Falls, Thunder Bay Ontario <3

We made a lot of memories. The kids were amazing. They didn’t complain about the drive, or the vagabond lifestyle. We had a life-changing, family-bonding experience. I could never explain what happened to us as we moved across the provinces, but it was pretty great. Eventually we landed in beautiful HUDSON’S HOPE, BC!

It’s really, really beautiful here.

Our home is warm and cozy, and our yard is absolutely gorgeous. We have a large covered porch that runs along most of the side of the house. Our bus even fit in our driveway! After several weeks of cleaning, unpacking and sorting, we are finally home.   I really like it here. It felt like home as soon as we arrived. I’m really, really happy.         If you want to keep in touch, you can find me on Instagram ( missclicks ). Or you can email. Or text. Or send an old fashioned letter. Or hop on a plane and visit. I’ll pick you up at the airport. Cheers from glorious BC! Gerri

Jun 21

2.5 Days

birdmandesk

It’s been a long time since I’ve woke up this happy.

Well, except for almost pissing the bed and then smacking my head on the door jamb as I stumbleran to the toilet.1)No more drinking two cans of club soda at 2 AM and “stumbleran” can be a word, you just need to use it enough.

Perhaps I should say that it’s been a long time since I was this happy, a few minutes after I’ve woke up. That’s a little more accurate.

On my way back to bed, I noticed the light blinking on my phone. I checked, and there were three text messages on there. One from each of my girls. The first one was exciting, because it contained this.

mufgI got one last night during a hardcore hacking session, and was very pleased to see that my sweet baby got one too. It won’t mean much to most of you, but any Ingress players should be a little envious of us right now.

Imagine my joy at this, and then reading the texts from the girls wishing me a happy Father’s Day and telling me that they love me and miss me.

I’m still crying.

I really had no idea that being a stepfather could be so fulfilling, emotionally.

In a few days, I will be flying home for Liv’s graduation, and to pack my family up for what is to be the greatest adventure of our lives, thus far. It will be filled with every kind of feeling that you can imagine, and I look forward to most of them, but especially the ones like I’m having now.

Those are the ones where I feel truly loved. I really don’t think that there could ever be a more complete feeling of worth as when you are really loved. I’ve had it all of my life, from my mom, and I’m pretty sure from my sisters 😉 , but I think that finding and marrying my one true love solidified it for me.

She didn’t have to love me.

Neither did her daughters.

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Courtesy of the fantastic Erin Campbell Photography (905) 372-7435

But they did, and I am forever grateful for that.

Happy Father’s Day to me, and to all of the other dads out there that get an immense feeling of pride and satisfaction when they think of their family. It’s probably the only reason that I’m not a crazy, eight dog owning hermit in central New Brunswick right now.2)Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Birdman

Awesome footnotes   [ + ]

1. No more drinking two cans of club soda at 2 AM and “stumbleran” can be a word, you just need to use it enough.
2. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.