Live Out There Exclusive: “Going to the Birds”

I have always, always loved the expression “having a bird.” It really doesn’t make much sense and it’s now super antiquated, but every time I hear it I laugh like a drain.

I also really love birds, so when Marc asked me if I wanted to go on an afternoon date to the Reifel Bird Sanctuary, I knew that it would be a perfect fit. For my last post this month with Live Out There I wrote about this amazing spot and two other places, perfect for a day with the ducks.

Going to the Birds

One of the great things about winter on the West Coast of Canada is that, unlike most of our Canadian countrymen and women, we are not buried under multiple feet of snow. In the absence of this seasonal staple, we are afforded some fantastic, though lesser thought of seasonal activities.

For instance, birding is often seen as something specific to the 60+ age set, when in reality it is a fantastic way to spend a crisp, sunny winter afternoon here in the BC Lower Mainland. In fact, Vancouver and its environs are home to a number of amazing places perfect for a long walk, hike, or bike ride, spent spotting and marveling at our feathered friends.

Continue reading about three areas perfect for an afternoon of birding about here.


A day for the ducks

This weekend Mr. M and I trekked out to the Reifel Bird Sanctuary, for an afternoon of water fowl and barnyard owls.

A swimming hole.

(Unfortunately, sightings of our flexible-necked friends were few and far between.)

We did however, espy a few swallows, a couple of herons, many, MANY ducks (mallards and otherwise), and a crap load of other birds I don’t know the names of, because who the heck do I look like people?

Ranger Rick?


(I kid, I kid. Except not at all about knowing anything about the different species of birds I encountered. About that I seriously do know squat.)

A little guy.

It was a truly gorgeous afternoon – blue skies, brilliant sunshine – although the wind was a little snappish; I could feel each gust of cold sea air nibbling at my ear lobes, nose, my fingertips, and toes.

I was super thankful for my last minute decision to bring my winter coat, but even with the extra layer, I walked around with my arms speckled with gooseflesh (how appropriate for the venue, no?) for the majority of the time we were there.

However, when you’re strolling around a nature reserve, surrounded by hilarious, chirping, feathered creatures, your “problems” are put into perspective pretty darn quickly.

I sometimes have a really hard time visiting places like this because I get so over wrought with need to SAVE ALL THE BIRDS the world over.

A little gal.

(This reaction is much the same to the one I wrote about last week. See: Ethel v. SPCA adoption website.)

It’s also intrinsically tied to the paralysis I undergo every time I take out my recycling and see, once again, that the tone deaf dirt bags that live in my complex have once again placed their recyclables in the bin, in a bloody plastic bag.

For serious, one day someone is going to find my body, dead, splayed about on the ground in front of the blue boxes, empty cans in hand. I will have passed over to the other side from a complete and utter rage out (combined with a complete lack of understanding) over why someone would do this.


Good grief.

Yesterday Mr. M found a broken toaster in the recycle bin.


Okay, I need to take it easy. My heart probably shouldn’t be pumping this fast.

Breathe in, breathe out.

Seriously though, what the heck is the point of “recycling” if you’re not going to do it right? Wouldn’t it actually be better if they just threw everything into the trash, because at least that way they wouldn’t be buggering it up for the rest of us that actually, you know, care?

I thought about these indolent bastards as I walked about the park (but just for a little while – I didn’t want to give them too much airtime, or the satisfaction of ruining my entire afternoon.)

But then I started to think about how if the people who already inhabit the earth don’t care, what kind of destruction will the planet oversee when we have an even greater population of (I’m afraid to even imagine) people who care even less?

And then I thought about how many species of birds will be around for my children? Or their children?

Will this amazing bird sanctuary be a moot point because we’ve annihilated everything that would be targeted to live and thrive within the reserve itself?

My heart grew heavier and heavier just thinking about it all.

But then M took my hand, and we say on a bench and ate some grapes, and I slowly started to feel better.


This heaviness I felt was gradually offset by a new set of competing factors and thoughts – indeed it became harder and harder to imagine such a dark world, because everything and everyone I was encountering at the park was the complete antithesis of that humanity and ecological peril I was fearing.

There were so many families out together – parents, children, grandparents, babies – teaching, watching, talking, learning about the different plant life, the insects, and course all the birds – calling out to the chickadees, and marveling at the swooping, circling falcons, feeding the ducks, and laughing at the geese.

There were exchange students with guide books, young couples on early spring dates, long-time husband and wife duos, and bird watching aces with camera lenses the width of my living room.

A married duck duo.

There were so many people, out enjoying the sun, basking in the beauty of the day, the park, the birds – the earth.

That it gave me hope.

And continues to give me hope.

It gives me hope that the Reifel sanctuary will be here for years to come.


And that out there people actually know how to properly dispose of toasters.

Oh make me over

I have a question for all the beautiful people.

What, pray tell, is the difference between “very black” and “classic black” in terms of mascara?

Or equally confounding, in life?

Won't somebody please think of the children!?

I mean, there can’t actually be a discernible distinction between the two – can there?

From what I remember of Art 8, (and there really isn’t much) black isn’t even a colour, so there can’t be all that much variation in terms of its presentation (or interpretation).


Of course this conundrum doesn’t even begin to scrape the surface of the impossible and completely insufferable colour coding on the (seemingly) millions of packaged eyelash-extending products available for purchase at your friendly neighborhood drug and/or department store.

The amount of merchandise on display is overwhelming to the point of paralysis.

Seriously, what is this? Bill’s Candy Shop? I mean, a company (that shall remain nameless) actually markets a product called “blackest-black”.

Those twisted bastards.

To be fair, I totally get why they do it.  They’re just trying to make as much money as they possibly can, through their totally warped and markedly transparent manipulation of the otherwise blissfully unassuming masses, and yet I still want to scream: HELLO COMPANY EXECS! WE ALL SEE WHAT YOU’RE DOING HERE AND WE KNOW ITS ALL ABOUT STUFFING THOSE GIANT ALREADY FIT-TO-BURSTING MONEY BAGS OF YOURS!

Also, if we are going to venture into this totally inane, waste-of-time-marketing-territory couldn’t we get a little creative? Where is my “the-Grinch’s-heart-pre-Cindy-Lou-Who-black,” or “black-hole-before-you-knew-anything-about-physics-black,” or “everyone-knows-you-look-skinnier-in-black-black”?


Well, give me time. I’m working on it.

In the interim, I can’t bring myself to buy any other brand than this one pictured below:

This colour scheme is pretty darn 80s.

It’s still the cheapest product available that (in my opinion) provides the best results.  Yet, I’m worried. The price has been steadily rising and I’m afraid that its affordability may be heading the way of the dodo.

So, in the near future, should you see a woman stockpiling Greatlash mascara with an almost deranged fervor, don’t fret – I’m just saving up in preparation for the zombie apocalypse.  Because if there is one thing I’ve learned from the Resident Evil franchise, (and I’ve learned a lot), it’s that the hotter I look, the more proficient I will be at kicking major flesh-eating, walking-dead butt.

So boy do I plan to look SMOKING.

Another point I feel as though I must touch on today is a bit of a post-script to my post from Monday, in which I mercilessly lampooned Forever Twenty-One’s horrifying fashions and equally disastrous window display.

Not to be outdone, it seems as though Holt Renfrew has thrown its hat into the ring in order to compete for the “erm…right…okay…” prize of the year.

Exhibit A:

No Bessie! Not on the Chanel!

Yeah, I’m pretty sure the last time I checked, right below “buy couture clothing” on my bucket list DOES NOT READ “bottle feed baby cow.”

In fact, the more I think about it, those two enterprises done in tandem just seem downright counter-intuitive.

(I’ll let you guys guess which of those two is actually on my bucket list. Please, be nice.)

Also, I cannot help but think of all the individuals of Swiss heritage I know, and how hard they would laugh at this display – not so much in a “hah! What a novel idea for a high-end department store to employ over the holidays,” but more of a “hah! Canadians are such silly, simple creatures. Please pass the gruyere.”


The other displays are equally alarming: bird people playing tin-can telephone? French maids wearing lace corsets over Victorian-style blouses?

Voulez-vous acheter des vetements vraiments cher? EH?

Didn’t anyone ever teach the store’s head display designer the dangers of mixed metaphors?

Can they even read?

(I kid. I kid.)


I worry that someone could end up with a bad case of mistaken (or even lost) identity from simply setting foot in the store!  Though to be fair, something tells me they are more likely to suffer from massive hemorrhaging of sweet cash dollars that anything else.

But I digress.

I also shouldn’t lie and say that I don’t desperately want those birds chilling out on the teeter-totter.  These awesome dudes were what definitely caught my eye in the first place:

Come on Jim! Left, left, left, right, left!

(Though the Swiss-miss Vogue cover shoot was a close second.)

They would make an excellent addition to my office, any day of the year.

Finally, yesterday my excellent friend A accompanied me to the Hyatt over lunch where we perused some of the stellar gingerbread creations currently on display in the hotel’s lobby.

It’s really quite amazing to behold how creative people can be in terms of the tasty treat! These people aren’t just culinary masters – they are bloody architects to boot!

Now, if I can just find a way to make this one life size I’ll be set.

Our house! In the middle of the farm!

Even more so if those Holt Renfrew birds want to join me.