Feb 29

God Is Great, Grief Is Good, And Injuns Are Crazy

Originally published December 17th, 2012

mindofbirdman

I’ve had a lot of things on my mind since last week. Newtown was one of them.

Yep, I’m taking the cheap post. I told myself that I wasn’t going to glorify it by even mentioning the occurrence, but it won’t leave me alone, so here we are.

The day after the killing, a friend of mine put this photo up on Facebook with the note: “Well said.”

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This was all it took. Hey, I’m not saying I don’t have issues.

Yep, that was all it was. I really like the guy, too, but at that moment I was just sickened by this shitty message. I didn’t even think about it. I copied it, then pasted it into the blog’s page with a caption about how disgusted I was with it. I then went and deleted him as a friend, because I couldn’t believe he would be so callous as to put this up after such a horrible tragedy. I’m a huge advocate of “If you don’t like me, delete me”, as opposed to I’m going to tell you how wrong you are, because you don’t share my views. Continue reading

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.
May 19

I Love Hay Day, And I Don’t Care Who Knows It

Can't you almost feel the soil between your fingers?

Can’t you almost feel the soil between your fingers?

Yeah, that’s right. I love a farming game, and I’m not ashamed of it. It brightens up my days.

It also gives me hope for my career as a farmer.

I can’t wait for the day that I can grow crops, raise livestock, and mine my own land. It will allow me to create artisan goods that I can then sell at my roadside stand and command premium prices. Serious prices. Check it out.

Muffins are fucking easy to make.

Muffins are fucking easy to make, and that isn’t even a really nice coal and iron bracelet. I’ll be rich!

You just find the duct tape, paint, and other shit in trunks and tool boxes, or somebody gives it to you for selling them a bunch of your overpriced junk. You then sell it for fifty times what it’s worth. It’s fucking insane in the membrane.

People always ask me why I would want to be a farmer. I usually just stare back at them in disbelief and show them my garden.

See that in the top right corner? Diamonds and gold, bitches.

See that in the top right corner? Diamonds and gold, bitches. Farm on.

In case you need it translated, I’ll give you a little glimpse at what we’re talking about here.

Yeah, I really can sell a three pack of olives for $82. Half a cacao pod for  $86? All fucking day, bud.

Yeah, I really can sell a three pack of olives for $82. Half a cacao pod for $86? All fucking day, buddy.

I’m probably going to need a greenhouse for some of this stuff, only because I think that some of it might need longer than the 45 day growing season that we have, but I’m pretty sure that I’ll be able to afford one after I sell a bunch of strawberries at $50 a piece. Booyah, motherfuckers. Getting paid like Tyson. I’m going to be making it rain at the Pro Hardware when I’m picking up the stakes for my over abundant tomato plants.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not just in it for the money; that’s just a bonus. I’m also in it for the satisfaction of seeing an odd array of people happy after shopping in my town. They are just strolling about and buying locally sourced products in a quaint setting; it just warms my heart.

If you really go out of your way to help them, they will reward you with things that are sometimes priceless. Like a bolt.

Woo hoo! Now I can finish upgrading my barn. Thanks, pretty lady.

Woo hoo! Now I can finish upgrading my barn. Thanks, pretty lady.

Another great thing about farming is how willing the local kids are to help you succeed. Take Tom for instance.

What I want are some marker stakes, Tom.  Can you get me some? Of course you can't, you simple freak.

What I want are some marker stakes, Tom. Can you get me some? Of course you can’t, you simple freak.

He will run and find you all kinds of things. Not the things you want the most, but for nine diamonds a day, he sure makes your life easier.

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Doesn’t he look like he should be playing Dueling Banjos?

I know that $1087 looks like a lot of money for nine lollipops, but I can turn them around easily for over three grand. It’s all organic sugar and colouring.

Anyhow, as fun as Hay Day is for me, the best part is that my sister is in my neighbourhood too. So is Alice, but she never talks to us in chat, so we think that she’s an asshole.1)I’m just guessing that we both do. We love to help each other out, and it’s really nice to be able to shoot the shit with her when we end up on at the same time.

When I got home at Easter, our other sister and Mrs. Birdman, in a fit of jealousy, started calling us farm nerds, because we were doing some insider trading at the table. They called themselves Rebel Nerds, obviously because they were upset at not being invited to our neighbourhood, and then they teased us relentlessly.

It was like water off a duck’s back with us, as we are emotionally secure in our Hay Day bliss, but I did secretly want to hear them beg to be let in.

On Easter morning, after hearing about how the rebel nerds were all chummy and shit, I sent an Easter card to celebrate the death walk of old Jebus.

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That sealed it for us being the coolest nerd team in the family, and it also made us remember to feed our cows.

Birdman

P.S. If you’re active on Hay Day and like the derby, come and look us up. Here’s where to find us.

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Awesome footnotes   [ + ]

1. I’m just guessing that we both do.