Tuesday, November 26, 2013

12 Facts About Me

I was tagged, and the prize/penalty was to share 12 random and generally unknown facts about myself. 

Here's my dozen ....

[1] At age 7, my brother and I played fishing in our back yard. 
I was the fisherman.  He was the fish.  He put the hook in his mouth.
To this day I don't know what possessed me, but I needed to 'set the hook'.  I leaned back, snapped the rod, and 2 barbed hooks went through his lower lip.

After a trip to the hospital to remove the barbed hooks, a brief family meeting concluded we had a lifetime ban on our fishing game.

[2] At age 8, I should have died on the freeway. 
On a family vacation in California we stopped at a roadside rest area for a picnic.  My mom told me to put something in the garbage can.
The can she saw was about 10 feet away.  
The can I saw was at the roadside rest area on the opposite side of the freeway, across 6 lanes of traffic.
I dodged vehicles traveling both ways, returning surprised to see the horror on her face as she realized I had innocently done exactly what she asked me to do.

[3] I was the first hockey player in my hometown to wear a helmet.  Fifty years ago, nobody wore a hockey helmet.  But I took a severe concussion while  playing hockey (with bleeding from both ears and both nostrils, and 5 days in a hospital). 

My dad bought me a helmet (made of felt and leather), and gave me a clear choice - wear the helmet or don't play hockey. 

With today's awareness of Concussions and Head Injuries from hockey and football, this seemed like an obvious solution - but at the time it was radical and I missed the hair flowing when skating with speed.  But within a few years, many players joined the helmet-on look.

[4] At age 11, I was fired as a baby-sitter.  My mom went out for just 15 minutes and I was to take care of my 3 younger siblings.
One sister drank a bottle of iodine, and my other sister burned concentric rings on her bare foot as she stepped on a hot burner on our counter-top stove. My brother was OK. 
Apparently a 1-out-of-3 success-rate did not meet the standards expected by my mom.

[5] At age 15-16, I had a palomino quarterhorse
I joined 4H, competed in all the gymkhana events, and rode in the musical ride as mentored by the RCMP officers stationed in our town.  In winter, I rode bareback and without a bridle - she was an amazing horse, responding to voice, hand and leg signals.  

[6] At age 16, I completed a full 26-mile marathon ... without training or preparation. I had moved from a small town to a big city, and on a whim thought it would be a fun outing.  I haven't run a marathon since.

[7] I worked as a driller & blaster (explosives expert) for 5 summers while a university student.  

In a nickel mine at Thompson Manitoba, 5800 feet (1 mile or 1.6Kms) underground.

Rough work, but I made 5 times the minimum wage that most students worked for.

[8] At age 59 I traded Cancer for a Colostomy.  It was a good trade.  

I had rectal bleeding for 2 years, and assuming it was only hemorrhoids, avoided and declined all medical examinations and tests.

Earlier detection with a colonoscopy may have 'saved my ass'.

[9] I have a connection and respect for ravens (highly intelligent birds that can live 70 years).  Every March, 2-3 ravens are hatched on a cliff easily visible from our cabin. We watch their growth until they learn to fly and join the adults.

I have left stale donuts and watched ravens carry 
them 1-at-a-time and hide them in trees (there is an intelligence to thinking of the future).  One smarter raven learned to put his beak thru a donut-hole then grab a second donut in his beak, and carry them 2-at-a-time! 
I have left ice-fishing rigs unattended, and ravens flew circles over our cabin, squawking persistently ... yes, it meant a fish was on the line, and the ravens got a meal!  
After harvesting a moose, I packed out the meat, left the carcass, and started to drive my boat the 8 kms back to our cabin.  A few, then 11, Ravens flocked together overhead and followed me home. As I sat on my dock, they flew 3 circles, in unison, over my head, then all flew back toward the moose carcass.  They would have food for a month ... was that a raven's thank-you salute?

[10] Social media is too fast for me.  

I am more comfortable canoeing or trekking
and without cellphone or internet access.

My lifetime favourite is Nepal.

[11] Hockey has been hard on my body. 
I made a quick count of injuries during 57 years of hockey ...
3 concussions requiring hospitalization, 
12 broken bones, 
3 shoulder separations, 
2 missing teeth, 
1 torn knee, 
and over 100 stitches.  

A colostomy hasn’t changed that style.

[12] My favourite quotation ...

Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave
safely in a well-preserved body, 

but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, 
shouting "Holy Shit ... What a Ride!"

Friday, November 8, 2013

Ostomate Carries Moose 6X

Moose hunting has been a long tradition for me -  before-ostomy  -AND-   after-ostomy.  
It's an annual opportunity to reconnect with the natural world and with primal instincts. 

Being solo enhances the experience.

Each morning for 8 consecutive days, I wake at 4:00am and eat a hearty breakfast.  Then travel by boat for 5 miles (8kms) in the dark. 

On clear nights the moon, stars, and northern lights (aurora borealis) are spectacular as there is absolutely NO light-pollution for at least 30 miles.  

I leave my boat on a shore, and paddle my canoe far up a creek.

Before first-light I arrive at my special hunting spot, and begin the long plaintiff call of a cow moose, hoping to draw in a bull-moose.  Each morning at daybreak, 4 ravens fly a long straight path to where I sit, circle overhead to check me out, then fly back to where they came from. Beavers have a house nearby and busily drag poplar/aspen branches for their winter food storage.  Large flocks of Canada Geese fly over in 'V' formation, with the lead bird breaking the wind for those behind it.

It is often foggy as the mist rises from the water and slowly follows downstream from the creek into the lake. At first light, my surroundings start to take shape - first the large trees, then the lowbush. At sunrise the silhouettes gain depth and that 'golden hour' rich colour loved by photographers.

Between cow-calls, I wait silently.  Patiently hoping for a bull-moose to respond.  After 8 days hunting and living solo, I really want to hear a bull-moose.  So many sounds can be imagined to be a bull-moose.  A beaver snapping a branch could be a moose.  A dozen ducks skuttling the water could be a moose crossing the creek. An owl hooting could be a moose.  The crashing sound of blinking frozen eyelashes could be a moose breaking branches far away.

On day 8, I did hear a bull-moose grunt from 2 lakes away.  I knew my backyard, and could hear the echoes from lake to hills to another lake.  He approached with aggressive grunting and breaking of branches - sure to impress the hot cow he was hearing.  I sat silently and moved only my eyeballs.  Eventually he showed at 80 yards and with a single shot he was down. We shared a moment of respect and giving thanks.

Then the work began. 

No quad, no truck, no mechanical gear, 
nobody to help.  

Just me, 
age 63, 
with an ostomy. 

Turning him on  
his back is a big effort.

Then I carried this moose (in pieces), myself, 6 times.
     [1] from where he fell to my canoe on the creek
     [2] from the canoe to my 14foot open aluminum boat on the lake
     [3] from the 14ft boat to my dock
     [4] from the dock to my hanging rack
     [5] from the rack to my big boat (which I loaded on a trailer, with moose on the floor)
     [6] from the big boat to the butcher shop

Really, I carried that moose 6 times!

That was a long hard day.  But I felt thankful and fulfilled as I watched the sunset at the end of that day.

I know that not everyone has the same appreciation for hunting, and I respect their opinions.
But for me, it's a way of life and 7 families will enjoy moose-meat this winter.