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.

Mirror, mirror on the wall

Do you ever get the feeling that, no matter what, you’re just going to have a good day? And while you cannot quite put your finger on it (whatever it may be), somehow you know that everything is going to work out in your favor?

This happens to me.

At least sometimes.


You see, I have many small idiosyncrasies and quirks (to be fair, I have many BIG idiosyncrasies and quirks, but let’s leave a thorough exploration of those for another day, shall we?) that have a peculiar way of letting me know (or at least, making me think I know) what the morning, noon and night has in store for me.

It's a new day! It's a new life! SING IT BUBLÉ.

Seriously, these strange twists of character probably aren’t the best barometer for the day’s happening (aka I give them WAY too much credit), but no matter how hard I try, I cannot rid myself of them.

For real, it’s mostly just me believing I have an uncanny affinity for zeroing in on my rather random or mundane early-morning events, and then ascribing to them crazy superstitious qualities, or even worse, horoscope-like powers.

In short, I’ll pick up on little things that happen once or twice, and then before I know it, I’ll have weaved them into own personal mythology as stand-ins for whether or not I think the day will bode well in my favor, or (more pessimistically) come to the realization that because these events have occurred, the whole world is doomed.


Luckily I haven’t had any nuclear fallout premonitions as of yet.  But I’ll keep you posted.

I do, however, experience this phenomenon on a much smaller scale, and weirdly enough, almost daily at that.  For instance, today on my way to work I finished two Metro Newspaper crosswords in the time it took me to travel from New West station to Metrotown.

Now, this in itself isn’t some awe-inspiring feat.


I mean, it’s the Metro News.


Also, if you do enough of them (as I have), you come to pretty much memorize the rotation of clues, so it’s more of an exercise in filling in the blanks AS FAST AS YOU CAN, and not, you know, actually working out the appropriate number-of-letters synonym.

BUT! Today, I took it as a sign.

You see, I have come to assume, that anytime I manage to complete multiple crosswords on my way to my job that whatever the day holds for me, the scales are sure to come out weighted in my favour by day end.

And annoyingly enough, I actually had a darn good day.  I was super productive at work, met up with a lovely friend for lunch, had a terrific work out at the gym, and ate a hearty, healthy dinner.

Bliss my friends. BLISS!

Now, while some of you may think that this is actually a healthy process, in so far as I am easily, albeit, inadvertently, setting myself up for a day of magic, because I have unconsciously ensured a day-long good mood, I cannot help but give myself some major side eye.

Sure no one likes to laugh at the crazy superstitions of anyone (take professional athletes for instance) especially because most people brush them off, thinking what harm can these little beliefs do, especially if they seem to work for the people involved?

Yet for me, more and more, these little oddities of mine are making me feel less Sidney Crosby, and more Sidney Crosby’s mustache.

(I cannot make fun of the lad too much though because 1.) his brain might be broken and 2.) because of said broken brain, may have to work the rest of his life at SportsChek.)

Take, for instance, my behavior during the two-week long process of applying for my (now) job: on my first day of interviews I walked by a neighborhood park that was COMPLETELY overrun my ducks.

Now, as many of you know, I am a deranged waterfowl fiend, so I somehow got it stuck in my head that as long as the ducks were in the park every morning, the job for sure would be mine.


You should have seen the sweat I broke out on the morning of my final interview when I arrived at the park that day and there wasn’t one little mallard to be found.

I was sure that I was hooped, and the new suit I had purchased would be all for naught.

(Least of all because I certainly did not have the sweet cash dollars to pay for the blasted suit in the first place. Though to be fair, it’s probably one of the hottest outfits I have ever owned.)

I mean, starting your day off on the right foot because you managed to complete a crossword is all well and good, but when you’ve freaked yourself out about your employment prospects and gotten yourself into a worrisome mindset, isn’t doing you any favors.

Least of all because actually thinking that a park’s lack of ducks would be the cause of my not getting a job is COMPLETELY BATSHIT CRAZY.

That’s right folks. I, like our one dollar coin, and a complete loonie.

Although I can’t help but wonder, dear friends, what I am to do with this information?

I mean, I’m definitely working on it. And I’ll keep you abreast of my progress.

But in the meantime, if someone would just pass me a bag full of stale bread, there’s a park close by that probably holds the answer.

One odd duck

Hey Kids!  In lieu of the regular Friday Fry-up, I have a little something different planned.

Now, before I get into the crux of the matter, I feel as though I need to explain myself.

I, contrary to past (and current) posts, am not a completely deranged animal-cum-water fowl fiend.  I just happen to suffer from some kind of faulty construction (birth defect?)  in so far as I incapable of stopping myself from becoming momentarily paralyzed every time I am found in the presence of these beings.

Seriously, I almost start crying every time I read an article on polar bears.  (DAMN YOU COCA COLA!)

What can I say?

I also just really, really like ducks.

Like, a lot.

So it pretty much makes my day, but also sort-of takes my breath away and makes me tear up a bit every time I walk into the lobby of my office building and see this:

I’m trying to figure out how to 1.) get one of the geese up the elevator and into my office and 2.) jerry-rig the electronics so it will still be able to move and not, you know, blow my place sky high.

But nere you worry – I’m working on it.

Man, is it just me or is it that any way you slice the mandarin orange these days, things are looking pretty darn festive?

I don’t know if the daily increased swelling I experience in my chest is due to 1.) the holiday spirit 2.) the daily inclusion of mechanized ducks from an old Woodward’s window display 3.) angina or 4.) all of the above.

Two nights ago I was speaking with my sister on the phone and we were laughing (nay cackling) about an incident that occurred a couple of Christmas’ ago that concerned her, a Christmas-cracker hat, and a bowl of bran buds cereal.

It is definitely one of our favourites and a total go-to memory when we are in need of a good laugh-until-you-cry moment.

So do it I shall.

Cry tears of happiness.