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The BIG 30 Project #15: Try Falconry

My deep and abiding love of owls, like so many other things in my life, was inspired by David Bowie.

Labyrinth was the movie that initially got me interested in owls, but the more I learned about them, the more interested I was. Owls are beautiful, perfectly designed, predators and there’s just some ineffable quality about them that makes people gravitate to their imagery.

I really love birds of prey. I think there’s something majestic and perhaps a bit metaphoric about how beautiful but dangerous they are.

This past March, I treated myself to a birthday trip to England to visit friends and to see the Hogsmeadianesque city of Cambridge. Before visiting, I, along with my friend (who I am calling J because I refuse to tell the internet where she lives without her permission)specifically looked for places to try falconry and not only did we find one, we found one that does a lot of good!

The Raptor Foundation is a team who provide rescue service, 24 hour care, and rehabilitation facilities for injured raptors.

No.

Not the “Clever girl…” type of raptors. The fly in the sky, hunt rodents, kind of raptors.

The foundation provides a permanent and caring environment for those raptors unable to return to the wild, but they also focus on increasing the number of rare species and sharing information on the medical treatment and rehabilitation of raptors.

All the above is great and all, but potentially the most important thing they’ve done is that THEY LET ME HOLD THE BIRDS!

Crunk

LOOK AT THAT MAJESTIC BIRB!

Her name is Clunk and she’s old and more than a little bit grumpy, but I feel like we clicked.

They let me hold so many birds.

SO MANY!

It was honestly a highlight of my life thus far.

 

LOOK AT HOW MANY BIRDS THEY LET ME HOLD!

Now, the most exciting part of the day is the one part I don’t have pictures of: getting to fly the birds.

Holding a bird of prey, be it an owl, hawk, or eagle, is one thing but to see one flying directly at you is entirely another.

There’s something in your mind that starts to panic, something that says “DANGER, DANGER” until the bird in question grabs hold of your leather armored arm and digs into the treat you had been holding for it.

It felt a bit like sky-diving all over again- a surreal feeling that you are both in and completely out of control. I can see why the upper classes have favoured falconry for so long. There is very little in this world that can make you feel as powerful as having what is basically a dinosaur choose to perch on your arm rather than rip your face off.

I wish I had more words to better explain how much this experience, and sharing it with my friend J, meant to me but it’s difficult to describe. It was like when you’re a kid and a birthday cake lit with candles is in front of you. That feeling of all consuming, childlike, excitement because you KNOW you’re going to get to make a wish and eat that cake.

That’s kind of what it felt like. It was actually living out a life dream and for a few hours I felt like kid, too filled up with excitement to feel anything else.

This is only item #15 on the list and there is so much more that I want to do, but I am definitely going to do this again some day.

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Albatrossity

Between us is empty and hollow-

something used to live there but it long ago

withered or else made its way to someplace better.

This is a place of angry cracks

formed by a calculated dehydration.

Nothing can live here without assistance.

You could call until your throat bleeds,

dust from long neglected lungs billowing out

like fireworks to celebrate that finally,

for once,

you’re breathing outwards,

but until you take just one step forwards,

no one would ever be able to hear you.

When I see you-

I smell salt.

I wonder if you wear me around your neck.

Is that where you keep me?

 

Have I become a totem to remind you of decisions you can not rescind?

Is that why you’re so silent?

Do you think I would choke you if you spoke?

 

I’m so much more than you ever made me out to be,

my wings are not broken,

I am not dead,

if I hang by your neck,

it isn’t truly me,

it’s simply a bird you’ve given my name and placed there,

because as long as you wear it,

you can continue your stagnation

and point to your suffering to say

“This! Is this not enough?”

You’re caught in a nightmare’s mirage of your own making

and I am done patiently waiting

for the day you take that step forward,

expel the years from your core,

and admit

you could yet do better.

Creative Failure = Success

As you may remember, a few months ago, I had a slight existential crisis about how I was ready for a bed-frame.

Well, I got a bed-frame. Ages ago, actually.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t assemble it for the longest time because there was a rather large dresser taking up a bunch of space.

I tried selling it but despite the fact that it is/was a perfectly lovely, solid maple, Canadian made piece of furniture, nobody seemed willing to buy it. Either that or it’s horribly cursed.

Occasionally I would get a message but as soon as I responded, it was like the curse took effect and they mysteriously disappeared into a the abyss, or the void, or space, or Amish country or something.

I put ads for the thing up everywhere but I might as well have been advertising…hmm…what’s a thing that no one wants? A Nickleback CD? A full colonoscopy? A pile of human excrement? Pick any of the above.

This past Sunday, my folks came up for a visit and took the cursed dresser with them.

My Dad lamented the fact that they didn’t have time to help me assemble my new bed-frame.

“I’m a grown woman, Dad” I said “It’s probably time I assemble my own bed-frame.”

Ha.

Ha ha.

HA HA HA HA HA HA aha ha ha!

best-laughing-hysterically-gif

As always, my confidence in myself as an adult is adorable.

Things started out O.K.

Probably because the first step was just opening boxes and it’s pretty hard to screw that up.

I got all the parts out of their boxes, got out the Ikea instructions, and was ready (and embarrassingly excited about) assembling my bed-frame.

My first problem was that I don’t read pictures.

I like my instruction like I like my poetry: Thoreau.

Get it?

Because Thoreau is a great writer/poet and it sounds like thorough?

Anyone?

Bueller?

No?

Fine.

Philistines.

giphy

After some mild struggles, and by mild struggles I mean putting literally everything in backwards before realizing it was supposed to go the other way, I managed to get everything ready to be put together.

Despite my ineptitude, this only took about 5 minutes, if that.

The hard part came when I realized 2 things:

1) My room is smaller than I thought it was by about 2 feet

2) I probably should have disassembled my old bed-frame before I started because I was out of room

Now, I probably should have known these things already but if I’m honest, I was kind of being slightly lazy and thought I’d have enough room to make it work.

Now, my old bed-frame (if you can call it that) consisted of two plywood slabs on top of two MDF board bookshelves, so it wasn’t much work to move…still…what if I just kind of shoved it out of the way?

Yeah.

And, I don’t need to empty the shelves or take off my bed sheets. I can just shove everything to the side, kind of, and then flip the plywood and mattress up so I’ll have room!

To my Mother, who is most assuredly reading this and asking herself where she and Dad went wrong, I would like to say that it worked so technically, there’s nothing wrong with the decisions I made.

Now that I had room, it was fairly easy to assemble the frame, though at one point I forgot which way to tighten the screws on the one corner and spent about 10 minutes trying to figure out why I couldn’t get that corner to work.

Unfortunately, even with everything moved to the side, I couldn’t get the new frame exactly where I wanted it once I’d assembled it. So I decided to make more room, I’d put the plywood on the new frame. I didn’t buy Ikea slat boards for this frame because SCREW YOU, IKEA. I AM NOT PAYING MONEY FOR BOARDS OF WOOD YOU STAPLED TOGETHER WITH A CHORD. THEY ARE FLIMSY GARBAGE.

Now, my old mattress is a double, but the plywood is a bit larger than the mattress and there’s not THAT much difference between a Queen (the size of the new bed-frame) and a Double. Right?

Turns out there’s a big difference.

I had exactly enough plywood for half the new frame.

So now I had a decision to make. I couldn’t put my mattress on the new bed-frame and I didn’t have room to re-assemble my old bed without disassembling the new frame.

So, what did I do?

I went back to my theatre training where the motto of stage dressing is: If it isn’t real, just make sure it’s sturdy and it looks good.

I lifted the MDF shelves into the new bed-frame and assembled my old bed-frame within the shell of my new one. It’s just as sturdy as it was before because it’s the exact same set-up I had but with better accessories, and it will buy me all the time in the world I need to get a new mattress and plywood when it fits in my budget.

And damn does it look good.

IMG_20151126_190549

The moral of the story is: As long as you’re creative in your failure, no one will ever know you didn’t succeed.

Sure it’s not a great moral but it’s a lot more practical than most.

Weird is Wonderful

If there’s one thing that living alone has done for me, it’s made my slightly question my sanity more than I did before. That being said, I’m kind of loving it. I’m learning a lot about myself.

Mostly, I’ve learned that I’m delightfully weird.

I mean, I kind of knew that already but I’ve gotten to a point where I’m actually ok with it and find myself kind of amusing.

For example: There is an office under my living room and because of the way the building was made, I can hear the guy downstairs if he’s talking loudly on the phone (which he usually is because he has an air conditioner down there). The other day, this happened:

Guy Downstairs: Yeah, no one will ever know how f#@ing dumb we are! *laughs*

Me: *looks down at the floor with crazy eyes* I will know. *whispers* I will know.

I then burst into amused laughter at my own crazy and turned the exchange into my Facebook status.

People liked it.

More importantly, I liked it.

For a long time I think I used to either hide from being weird or kind of adopt a weirder personality than I had as a defense mechanism. These days, I’m finding out that my particular brand of weird is sometimes macabre, sometimes wildly inappropriate, and often kind of delightful.

Humour is a way I usually connect with other people, so it’s been odd finding myself connecting to who I am by the things I do that end up making me laugh.

A lot of the times they’re pun based. Like when I can’t find the remote, only to realize it’s in the other room and then start laughing because my first thought was “It’s in a REMOTE location.”

Other times I end up laughing because I see something like an advertisement for the Body exhibit and I start singing that song from that one Simpson’s Halloween episode: “Just one sniff of that fog and you’re insiiiiiiiiiiiiide out! It’s worse than that flesh eating virus you’ve read about!”

I’ve even been surprised by the things I watch or read that make me actually laugh out loud. Maybe I just notice it more now that I’m the only one here.

It’s kind of been a weird side-effect of living alone. It’s like I’m getting to know myself and we get along way better than I ever expected we would, given past history.

I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’d love to find someone who laughs as hard as I do when I’m putting body lotion on and creepily whisper to myself “It puts the lotion on its skin”, but I’m learning that I really don’t want to dim the laughter I’ve apparently already got inside me for anyone else.

I once had a roommate that got really pissy when I’d sing to myself as I made a sandwhich. Which, you know, is kind of understandable, but when I stopped doing it out loud, she’d get mad at me for singing it in my head and kind of dancing to it a bit. Most of these times, she wasn’t even in the same room and I wasn’t really in a position where I’d have been distracting if she wasn’t looking at me in the first place.

She probably envies my sammiches. 

Incidentally, I still sing my sandwhich song sometimes and it kind of goes to the tune of Business Time by Flight of the Concords but the lyrics go “Iiiiiiiiiiiiiiit’s sandwhich tiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiime. It’s sandwhich time, the time everybody makes a sandwhich” the rest is generally improvised.

It is a glorious piece of art.

As is my sandwhich dancing, which does not happen often but generally just involves me moving a bit like I’m on an elliptical and falling down.

Anyway, my point is: The more comfortable I am with own weirdness, the more comfortable I’m becoming in my own skin.

After all, like Dr. Seuss said, we’re all weird and when we find someone equally weird we fall into mutual weirdness and that’s called love.

I like to think that I bring and share my weirdness to those around me and I hope they feel that it enriches their lives the way I feel it’s enriching mine.

I don’t know if the weird is catching.

But I think it might be.

This past Saturday, I was back in my hometown helping my Mum with a garage sale we were hosting at my grandparents. For some reason, the town was even quieter than quiet small towns usually are, but there was a little bit of traffic going on at the farmer’s market across the way.

Partly because I was bored, partly because I thought it might attract customers, and partly because I thought it was funny, I donned a cow mask and started dancing ridiculously to the music on the radio.

I danced for a really long time.

I even switched out costumes from time to time but the cow head got the most laughs, so I stuck with that.

At first, Mum didn’t really understand what I was doing.

Me: *dancing in a cow mask to the radio in a mascot-type manner*

Granny Reta: *surprised laugh* Look at that?

Mum: *turns and looks at me, laughs* What are you doing?

Me: *still dancing* Attracting customers with my sick dance moves! *wiggles chest and dances MORE obnoxiously*

Mum: *doubting me for some strange reason* Uh-huh….

Me: IT’LL WORK, MUM! *still dancing* Because of reasons!

Mum: *amused* Ooook.

Me: *still dancing* IT’S SCIENCE!

I’m not sure how many customers came in because of my sweet dance moves, but we did get at least one couple who said they’d had no intention to stop until they saw my dancing and thought it was funny. So, clearly, I was right.

By the end of the day, I even spread my weirdness around.

And you know what?

Dr. Seuss was right.

Mutual weirdness IS love.

DSCN1683

Left to Right: My Mum as Buisness Time Alien, Me as Dancing Cow, and my Granny Reta as our Straw-Lady.