Dec 18

I got some things I need to say

I just don’t know where to start. I guess the positive is a good place to start.

The positive (sort of)

I was just chatting with an old pal of mine, and he recently had a baby girl. He’s one of those really good guys, that’s nice to everyone, he’s funny, smart, and loves life (No, it’s not me). He’s the kind of guy that deserves to have a little bundle of love waiting for him when he gets to his days off. Yeah, he doesn’t get to live with his daughter, or even near her, but as soon as he’s done work, he’s trekking across the province to see his little girl. You know why he does that? Because he loves her and that’s what you do. Just because you and the child’s mother aren’t together anymore, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t spend every possible moment with your kid. I know quite a few people that barely make the time to see their kids on their scheduled visitation days, and they live in the same town. This guy drives probably 15 hours to spend as much time as he can with her. He’s a proud daddy, and he knows that his daughter’s life is more important than anything else. I liked him a lot before I heard this story, and now I’m almost in love with the dude. Seriously, can you find a better reason to be proud to know someone? Anyhow, I just thought that all of you girls that say there aren’t any good guys left, can rest assured that there are. I’ve said it a million times, just to get told that all of those guys are all taken. Hey, open your eyes, they are right in front of you, but because there’s nothing for you to change about them, you aren’t interested.

Sorry for getting all high and mighty there. I just thought I should turn a really nice story into a rant about women liking “bad boys”; it’s sad, but you all know it’s true. I really am happy for my friend, and I’m happy for his daughter for having parents that will work together to make her life wonderful. I also have some other happy news. HOME IN THREE DAYS!!!

That Chin guy is going to get to work the night shift, then get a free flight to Calgary. Awesome, right? Not for me. I have to drive the water truck to FSJ (8-9 hours), then the Green Goblin to Calgary (9-10 hours) to make a six o’clock flight to the homeland, where my sweet baby will be waiting for us at the airport. I just remembered that at 9:00 the next morning, I have a dentist appointment to get this hideous bastard fixed.

…and that, son, is how not to open a beer with your teeth.

That should be fun; Mrs. Birdman will get me home by 2 AM, and I’m sure we will go right to sleep, so I’ll get six hours sleep, right? Not bloody likely. I don’t care though, I just want to kiss her lips, and hold her again. It’s been way too long for this cowboy. The stolen hugs by the mandaid and the security guard just don’t cut it; I need me some cocoon time, and I’ll give up being awake while my toof gets bilt to get some.

Now for the negative

An old work friend passed away, and his funeral is tomorrow. Sadly, I won’t be able to make it, but I would like to pay my respects anyhow. Aaron and I worked with Jim on different jobs, and he was just a good, funny, easy going guy. When I was trying to learn to run cat, he was very patient, never getting upset if I screwed things up, and always giving me hints that he had learned in his years of  working in the patch. I’m embarrassed to say that I sucked as an operator, and no amount of teaching or hints would make me passable, so it wasn’t Jim’s fault that I never was any good. Anyhow, get some rest, buddy. It was a pleasure knowing you, and break up is just around the corner.

Okay now, why the fuck does anyone give two shits about whether or not someone says Happy Holidays? Get a grip on something, folks. Not everyone celebrates the birth of Christ, or the whole commercial aspect of Christmas. I would rather celebrate Neil Young’s birthday than Jesus’. At least I know that Neil Young has brought me great happiness, and that he exists in the flesh. I know Jesus exists in your hearts, but please don’t cram it down our throats. Yeah, I celebrate Christmas reluctantly, but I always try to use “xmas”, because then I don’t have to capitalize it or recognize that it has anything to do with Jesus. Not everyone in the public school system, the civil service, or the major corporations buys into your horseshit religion, because they have their own horseshit religions. They aren’t yelling Happy Diwali, or Happy Hanukkah at you angrily, so why the big deal about Christmas? No one is saying that you can’t say it, but why do you expect a Chinese or Indian greeter at Walmart to say it because it’s your belief? What’s wrong with Happy Holidays anyhow? Everyone gets their statutory holidays, and I’m sure they’re happy about that; maybe not happy enough to believe in Jesus, but happy nonetheless. So why not just smile and say “Thank you. You enjoy yours as well.”? I don’t know, maybe I’m not running with the pack here, but those are my two cents, anyways.

Also, I got ripped off today. It was supposed to be steak night, and instead, it turned out to be prime rib night. Awesome, right? No, no it’s exactly the opposite of awesome. I got the end piece, which was the equivalent of eating a dried out piece of boot leather. I looked around at everyone enjoying their beautiful, pink slabs of delicious, while I had to take a drink with each bite, just to get it down. Oh well, one more supper here, then it’s homeward bound.

Last but definitely not least is to state that I hate dogfuckers. People who try to dawdle and have it timed out so that they won’t be able to get another load after 6 PM. It’s unbelievable, really. We make very good money, to do very little work, and then you have guys that need to pilfer that last thirty minutes out of the oil company’s hands. Whatever. They pay us very well to work for them, and they treat us quite decently as well. Why do people feel the need to dog fuck every little bit they can? You aren’t doing anything but waiting around anyhow, grab half a load and spread it on the way out. Make them want to hire you back, because if I notice it, others do too, and the next job that they need trucks for, could be when you happen to need a job as well. I don’t know where everybody’s work ethic went, or maybe I’m just getting old, but I think that if you hate your job enough to steal from your boss, you should go find something you like better. Oh, and good luck getting a letter of recommendation, you lazy douchebag.

There, I’ve said all that needs to be said at this particular juncture. I wish everybody, safe travels, and please make it home in one piece, if you aren’t home already. Your loved ones don’t need to be IDing a body for their holidays, so drive safe, and do it sober. If you need a ride, call a cab, a friend, or if none of those work, call me, but please don’t drink and drive. Now please enjoy the greatest thing in the world.

Who’s gonna drive you home, tonight?

Birdman

 

Dec 09

It was a great trip…

The other night I was at my moms being treated to a glorious night of dinner that I didn’t have to prepare, when we realized we were out of a necessary ingredient to the evening’s soiree.  I (being the only person who had a drivers license and no cast) volunteered to slip out and grab said ingredient so the festivities could begin.

As I rounded the corner on the front step, my foot must have caught a loose flagstone and I began a journey that made my life flash before my eyes.  I hurtled forward in what seemed like slow motion, stumbling in a limbo of almost falling for several seconds, partially convinced that recovery was still an option.  It was very shortly thereafter that I realized the forward momentum of my fall was not going to be stopped by the feeble flailing of my legs in an attempt to catch up, and I succumbed to my descent to the waiting pavement below.

And down I went...

There is something magical about taking a spectacular fall that no other human being has witnessed.  It is almost tragic that such a magnificent tumble should not be talked about for years to come.  As I hit the ground, i was still.  Laying in my own puddle of embarrassment, agony and shame, I surveyed the damage.  I won’t lie, more than my pride was hurt.  I had smashed my hand, knee and wrenched several parts of my back. HARD.  I was thinking that it was going to be pretty weird to be brought to the emergency room by my broken-legged mother.

I guess I come by it honestly.  My own mother surely holds the record for the most bone-shattering injuries not resulting in death or dismemberment.  If there is a way to trip, bump or fall into or over something, my mom will find it.  In the last few years, I have seen her bust 2 ankles, have 2 knees replaced, break nearly all the bones in one of her hands, shatter her wrist, and have a scalp laceration that cleaved right to the bone.  Now that’s an impressive list of injured extremities!

I assessed the situation, and having decided I was okay, I gingerly got up, dusted the gravel out of my wounds.  I marveled at the relatively small amount of damage that had been caused, despite the epic nature of the launch.  As much as I would enjoy seeing it myself, I’m glad there was no video evidence of the incident.
It also occurred to me that I am approaching the age that such pratfalls may very well start to result in some serious down time.  Let’s be honest, my cat-like reflexes are not what they once were, and to be fair, they were never all that great to start with.  I am still young enough to withstand a fall that will eventually break my wrist, shatter my knee and cause me to require a hip replacement in the future, but for how much longer?

This scares me.  It’s not because I am particularly clumsy, because I’m no worse than the next person I suppose.  It’s because there will come a time in the future when, as careful as I am, I cannot avoid the occasional fall which might result in a serious injury.  Never before has my future feeble-ness slapped me more in the face than this past year.  It is with increasing sadness that I realize that I am not infallible, and I probably never was.  I have been lucky up to this point.  Lucky, because I have not taken many extraordinary chances, and I have always come out of any close-call completely unscathed.

Last summer, I played ball for the first time in years, and in one of my forgettable turns as catcher, I dove after a foul ball which I completely missed.  I ended up laid out at home plate with two scraped up arms, a bruised and cut knee, turning the deepest shade of scarlet I can imagine.   I licked those wounds for nearly a week!  How horrifying to end up injured when you DIDN’T EVEN CATCH THE BALL???!!!??

It was just like this, except with me as the injured party, and way less interest from my team mates...

I hear I am invited back next year, but it is more on the basis of my personality than my baseball prowess.

I guess my point, and I do have one, is that there is not much I can do about advancing age, and the possibility that one of these days I might actually acquire an injury more serious that my usual little boo boos.  I am glad that the Birdman and I are not a couple who is interested in extreme sports.  We aren’t really interested in any sports, actually.  We will mostly be devoting our future athletic energies to cocooning and beer-league baseball, both of which promise lots of fun, the best of friends, and the occasional need for cleats.

Safety first, people!

Mrs. B.

Nov 12

Sometimes I get choked up

Remembrance Day is one of those times. It’s the one day a year, where I sing the national anthem, look around at all of the people gathered to honour the fallen, and actually think about how everything in my life could have been so different. I think about that all the time, really. I am so very lucky to be where I am, with the people I surround myself with. This Remembrance Day was no different, well, except the first part.

Last week the girls asked me when I was going to BC. I told them that it was probably Friday, and they got a little whiny, then Yaya asked what time I was leaving. I told her it would probably be late in the morning or lunchtime. She got that sad look in her eyes and asked if I was going to miss her performance in the Remembrance Day ceremony at school. I told her that I would be there for sure, and I really meant it. It almost made me cry right there, when I came to the realization that she would want, or even care, for me to be there. It’s things like that, that really get me now. It’s one thing to have your heart filled with love for someone, but to have that returned, even in such a small gesture, means the world to me. I went to bed that night with a great big smile in my heart.

Now it’s Remembrance Day. O got herself up at 6:15 AM, so that she would be prepared for her performance. She was going to be a war widow, with two children, and she sure looked the part. We got them all packed up and took the girls to school, but forgot the camera. After a quick rip home, we get situated in the gymnasium, and await the ceremony. Everyone was getting set up, and some very mournful music was playing. A teacher explained that because of the somber occasion, there was to be no clapping after any performances, and I didn’t think that would be a problem; it’s a bunch of kids doing a Remembrance Day presentation. How good could it be? They don’t even realize the impact that these men made on our country, and the world, so how could they properly portray them in a school tableau vivant. Well, I was wrong again. From the start, it was all I could do to not clap. These kids were very good, and you could tell that they had practiced their parts well. It was so moving to see these little singers, actors and poets up there, giving it their all. I was so proud of them, but what really brought the tears to my eyes, was looking up at that little girl that wanted me to be there. I, of course, held back the flood, but what I really wanted to do, was to run up there and hug her until her ears hurt.

You see, I wasn’t just proud of her up there, I was proud of myself as well. I can’t explain it, but I felt this over-powering sense of self worth. Maybe other step-parents feel that too. I don’t know, but I’d like to hear from you if you do, because I don’t understand it. I didn’t raise these kids, so I can’t take credit for how good they are at anything, how smart they are, or how kind-hearted they are. They were like that before I came along. Maybe it’s because they see something in me that they love, or at least admire? I guess that’s possible; I’m not a psychologist. Well, not a licensed one, anyhow. When I looked over at Mrs. Birdman, taking photos of all the kids and their performances, I felt such deep adoration and respect for her. She was the main influence on those girls, all their lives. Don’t get me wrong. Their father is a great guy, and a great dad, but dads work a lot, and the moms are usually the ones who spend the most time with the kids. They are two well-raised girls, despite me, so I guess it’s just the phenomenon of step-parenting that gives me that amazing, fulfilled feeling. I thought that my life was complete with Mrs. B, but you add those two little sweethearts into the mix, and my cup runneth over for sure.

After the presentation at the school, we went to the cenotaph in Colborne, and remembered with a healthy gathering of townsfolk. Other than one lady that answered her phone during the two minutes of silence, it was a good ceremony, and there were many wreaths lain in memory. I feel great pride in my country, my fellow man, and myself on Remembrance Day. It’s not that I don’t feel that way every day, but that’s the one day, that no one asks what’s wrong while you are standing in the middle of a park with tears running down your face. I worry that the meaning will get lost on our young, as our parents probably worried about us, but I think if we continue to teach the importance of freedom to our children, they will remember, as we remember. At least I hope they do.

I’ll never forget,

Birdman

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,

Birdman

 

Oct 26

My other dad

As I write this, the man who raised me as a son since I was eight is on his way to the hospital. He hasn’t been able to swallow food or water for days now, and if something isn’t done soon, it can’t get any better. He doesn’t want us kids there right now, maybe he doesn’t want to inconvenience us, but it’s probably because he doesn’t want us to see what the cancer has reduced him to. I don’t think he understands that we don’t care about that.

You see, he grew up in a time when men were judged by their physical, mental and emotional strength, and you didn’t want anyone to ever see you in a lesser state. I’m so glad I don’t have to follow any of those rules, or I’d be failing miserably as a man. If I can’t go out fast, while stopping a stray bullet from hitting an innocent bystander in a driveby, I want all the people I love to be around me.

Long before the second bout, but after the first. Mom loves cameras

Since he was first diagnosed with esophageal cancer, some ten years ago, he was given months to live. He was pretty down about it, and had kind of lost that fire he had always had. That was until he went to Kingston. While he was at the cancer centre there, he got talking to a lot of survivors, and they all had one thing in common. They were fighters. They weren’t going to let it beat them. They wanted to live, and were going to do what it took to stay above ground. Continue reading