On this day in 1939 John Cleese was born in Weston-super-Mare, England and the futures in absurdity went through the roof. John had a few witty things to say over the years including “He who laughs most, learns best” and “I think that the real religion is about the understanding that if we can only still our egos for a few seconds, we might have a chance of experiencing something that is divine in nature. But in order to do that, we have to slice away at our egos and try to get them down to a manageable size, and then still work some practiced light meditation. So real religion is about reducing our egos, whereas all the churches are interested in is egotistical activities, like getting as many members and raising as much money and becoming as important and high-profile and influential as possible. All of which are egotistical attitudes. So how can you have an egotistical organization trying to teach a non-egotistical ideal? It makes no sense, unless you regard religion as crowd control. What I think most organized religion—simply crowd control.” and “I find it rather easy to portray a businessman. Being bland, rather cruel and incompetent comes naturally to me. ” and “I can do anything I want, I’m eccentric!” and “I think the problem with people like this is that they are so stupid that they have no idea how stupid they are.” and “Creativity is not a talent. It is a way of operating.” and “This is the extraordinary thing about creativity: If just you keep your mind resting against the subject in a friendly but persistent way, sooner or later you will get a reward from your unconscious.” Dead/Not Dead John celebrates his 75th birthday today. One final word: “We don’t know where we get our ideas from. What we do know is that we do not get them from our laptops.” Oh I almost forgot, “Your Mother was A Hamster and your Father Smelled of elder berries”
Category Archives: Life and Life Only
At my old friend Terry’s suggestion we trekked north out of Winnipeg into the Interlake so named due its location between Lakes Manitoba and Winnipeg. Our destination was the red-sided garter snake dens just north of Narcisse on Hwy #17 though neither of us are particularly fond of snakes. It was the phenomenon we were looking for.
The day was cloudless and warm, a perfect day to escape the Hive. Immediately upon our arrival a friendly and informative snake lady who works for the site gave us some information about the most active dens – today it was 2 and 3. There are four dens. The late spring has put the emergence of the snake population back about a month, she explained, so we can expect snakes to still emerge for the rest of May into June. She mentioned the wood ticks are out so stay on the trail. I just did a tick check of my body and turned up none. The limestone trails to the dens are an easy hike across flat land and completely wheelchair accessible. The viewing areas sets the visitor above and apart from the dens below, well out of each other’s way. Snakes moving in the dry pit created a constant low rustle.
Although the snakes haven’t eaten since last summer, their first imperative is biological – to mate. For that purpose male garter snakes wait to the mouth of the den for females to emerge. They throng the female creating a passionate mating tangle that moves across the ground, up the side of the pit then tumbles back down. Today there were small clusters, no large mating balls of hundreds of snakes.
We passed two school buses of kids coming from visits to the snake dens and there were at least a dozen cars in the lot. But there was no crowd, just the happy, enthralled voices of kids discovering the snakes.
As Terry pointed out, we seldom get to see the ancient pivotal moment in another creature’s life when they are governed by The Old Rules of procreation. We found our phenomenon.
I shot a 2 minute video of the snakes today. Watch it here.
My earlier visit to the snake dens in 2002 prompted this report.
Current information on the Narcisse Snake Dens.
Stuck for a New Year’s resolution?
30 Things to Stop Doing to Yourself
As Maria Robinson once said, “Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.” Nothing could be closer to the truth. But before you can begin this process of transformation you have to stop doing the things that have been holding you back.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
Stop spending time with the wrong people. – Life is too short to spend time with people who suck the happiness out of you. If someone wants you in their life, they’ll make room for you. You shouldn’t have to fight for a spot. Never, ever insist yourself to someone who continuously overlooks your worth. And remember, it’s not the people that stand by your side when you’re at your best, but the ones who stand beside you when you’re at your worst that are your true friends.
Stop running from your problems. – Face them head on. No, it won’t be easy. There is no person in the world capable of flawlessly handling every punch thrown at them. We aren’t supposed to be able to instantly solve problems. That’s not how we’re made. In fact, we’re made to get upset, sad, hurt, stumble and fall. Because that’s the whole purpose of living – to face problems, learn, adapt, and solve them over the course of time. This is what ultimately molds us into the person we become.
Stop lying to yourself. – You can lie to anyone else in the world, but you can’t lie to yourself. Our lives improve only when we take chances, and the first and most difficult chance we can take is to be honest with ourselves. Read The Road Less Traveled.
Stop putting your own needs on the back burner. – The most painful thing is losing yourself in the process of loving someone too much, and forgetting that you are special too. Yes, help others; but help yourself too. If there was ever a moment to follow your passion and do something that matters to you, that moment is now.
Stop trying to be someone you’re not. – One of the greatest challenges in life is being yourself in a world that’s trying to make you like everyone else. Someone will always be prettier, someone will always be smarter, someone will always be younger, but they will never be you. Don’t change so people will like you. Be yourself and the right people will love the real you.
Stop trying to hold onto the past. – You can’t start the next chapter of your life if you keep re-reading your last one.
Stop being scared to make a mistake. – Doing something and getting it wrong is at least ten times more productive than doing nothing. Every success has a trail of failures behind it, and every failure is leading towards success. You end up regretting the things you did NOT do far more than the things you did.
Stop berating yourself for old mistakes. – We may love the wrong person and cry about the wrong things, but no matter how things go wrong, one thing is for sure, mistakes help us find the person and things that are right for us. We all make mistakes, have struggles, and even regret things in our past. But you are not your mistakes, you are not your struggles, and you are here NOW with the power to shape your day and your future. Every single thing that has ever happened in your life is preparing you for a moment that is yet to come.
Stop trying to buy happiness. – Many of the things we desire are expensive. But the truth is, the things that really satisfy us are totally free – love, laughter and working on our passions.
Stop exclusively looking to others for happiness. – If you’re not happy with who you are on the inside, you won’t be happy in a long-term relationship with anyone else either. You have to create stability in your own life first before you can share it with someone else. Read Stumbling on Happiness.
Stop being idle. – Don’t think too much or you’ll create a problem that wasn’t even there in the first place. Evaluate situations and take decisive action. You cannot change what you refuse to confront. Making progress involves risk. Period! You can’t make it to second base with your foot on first.
Stop thinking you’re not ready. – Nobody ever feels 100% ready when an opportunity arises. Because most great opportunities in life force us to grow beyond our comfort zones, which means we won’t feel totally comfortable at first.
Stop getting involved in relationships for the wrong reasons. – Relationships must be chosen wisely. It’s better to be alone than to be in bad company. There’s no need to rush. If something is meant to be, it will happen – in the right time, with the right person, and for the best reason. Fall in love when you’re ready, not when you’re lonely.
Stop rejecting new relationships just because old ones didn’t work. – In life you’ll realize that there is a purpose for everyone you meet. Some will test you, some will use you and some will teach you. But most importantly, some will bring out the best in you.
Stop trying to compete against everyone else. – Don’t worry about what others are doing better than you. Concentrate on beating your own records every day. Success is a battle between YOU and YOURSELF only.
Stop being jealous of others. – Jealousy is the art of counting someone else’s blessings instead of your own. Ask yourself this: “What’s something I have that everyone wants?”
Stop complaining and feeling sorry for yourself. – Life’s curveballs are thrown for a reason – to shift your path in a direction that is meant for you. You may not see or understand everything the moment it happens, and it may be tough. But reflect back on those negative curveballs thrown at you in the past. You’ll often see that eventually they led you to a better place, person, state of mind, or situation. So smile! Let everyone know that today you are a lot stronger than you were yesterday, and you will be.
Stop holding grudges. – Don’t live your life with hate in your heart. You will end up hurting yourself more than the people you hate. Forgiveness is not saying, “What you did to me is okay.” It is saying, “I’m not going to let what you did to me ruin my happiness forever.” Forgiveness is the answer… let go, find peace, liberate yourself! And remember, forgiveness is not just for other people, it’s for you too. If you must, forgive yourself, move on and try to do better next time.
Stop letting others bring you down to their level. – Refuse to lower your standards to accommodate those who refuse to raise theirs.
Stop wasting time explaining yourself to others. – Your friends don’t need it and your enemies won’t believe it anyway. Just do what you know in your heart is right.
Stop doing the same things over and over without taking a break. – The time to take a deep breath is when you don’t have time for it. If you keep doing what you’re doing, you’ll keep getting what you’re getting. Sometimes you need to distance yourself to see things clearly.
Stop overlooking the beauty of small moments. – Enjoy the little things, because one day you may look back and discover they were the big things. The best portion of your life will be the small, nameless moments you spend smiling with someone who matters to you.
Stop trying to make things perfect. – The real world doesn’t reward perfectionists, it rewards people who get things done. Read Getting Things Done.
Stop following the path of least resistance. – Life is not easy, especially when you plan on achieving something worthwhile. Don’t take the easy way out. Do something extraordinary.
Stop acting like everything is fine if it isn’t. – It’s okay to fall apart for a little while. You don’t always have to pretend to be strong, and there is no need to constantly prove that everything is going well. You shouldn’t be concerned with what other people are thinking either – cry if you need to – it’s healthy to shed your tears. The sooner you do, the sooner you will be able to smile again.
Stop blaming others for your troubles. – The extent to which you can achieve your dreams depends on the extent to which you take responsibility for your life. When you blame others for what you’re going through, you deny responsibility – you give others power over that part of your life.
Stop trying to be everything to everyone. – Doing so is impossible, and trying will only burn you out. But making one person smile CAN change the world. Maybe not the whole world, but their world. So narrow your focus.
Stop worrying so much. – Worry will not strip tomorrow of its burdens, it will strip today of its joy. One way to check if something is worth mulling over is to ask yourself this question: “Will this matter in one year’s time? Three years? Five years?” If not, then it’s not worth worrying about.
Stop focusing on what you don’t want to happen. – Focus on what you do want to happen. Positive thinking is at the forefront of every great success story. If you awake every morning with the thought that something wonderful will happen in your life today, and you pay close attention, you’ll often find that you’re right.
Stop being ungrateful. – No matter how good or bad you have it, wake up each day thankful for your life. Someone somewhere else is desperately fighting for theirs. Instead of thinking about what you’re missing, try thinking about what you have that everyone else is missing.
For a couple of years, a blog called A Day in the Hood reported honestly without embellishment on daily life in Winnipeg’s North End. The blog is no more. This post poignantly explains why and, by doing so, exposes further Winnipeg’s pathetic, embarrassing and dysfunctional city council who have virtually abandoned the North End to gangs, crime and poverty. Now that the bloggers have escaped the North End, follow them on the road.
Last spring at this time we were seeing these signs because of floodwaters. This year, in a 180 degree turnabout the emergency is fires…wild fires. I shot this on Sunday May 13, 2012, east of Vita, MB along Provincial Road 201. When I asked the girl at the convenience store in Vita what was burning she said, “Everything.”
Seems several small fires have converged into one large fire and are the cause of one of several huge plumes of smoke I saw today, each indicating fires across the landscape of south-easternManitoba.
A strong westerly wind today fanned flames in every direction. It’s been a dry, hot and windy spring and the ground is bone dry as is the understory which is mostly what you see burning in the forested areas. It’s so dry the fire is easily burning against the high winds.
The area behind the flames is a scorched landscape, blackened for miles and miles along PR 201. Emergency vehicles scream by me. Closer to the blaze the air is filled with crackling fire and the smell of smoke, visibility on the road is reduced to almost zero at times. Click the pic to watch my two and half minute video report on the wildfires.
Timothy Allen is a British photographer who has contributed to BBC’s Human Planet series. This seven and a half minute clip of his photographs with his audio commentary is an uplifting glimpse into the courage and customs of humanity living in extreme conditions. Click the pic of the couple at the Mount Hagen Sing Sing in the western highlands of Papua New Guinea to view the video.
Another repost as the basic imperative spreads
Peregrine Falcons Nest on the Cliffs of Downtown Winnipeg
Peregrine Falcons Nesting in Brandon, Too!
When I posted the first story about the falcons in Winnipeg a few days ago, the Brandon cam wasn’t up and running. Today it is and what a great angle on the future festivities! The nest is situated high atop the McKenzie Seeds Building in downtown Brandon. There are two tabs along the top of the image, one for Winnipeg nest, one for Brandon nest. Click pic for both cams.
Reposting because this annual event is occurring right now! Find other interesting Manitoba excursions on my Day Tripper page.
It is one of those late April anomalies: 25 degrees C with a warm south wind, the kind of day that entices red-sided garter snakes from their cool winter dens.
In the Interlake on Highway 17, just north of the village of Narcisse, one of the largest populations of garter snakes in Canada is beginning its spring mating ritual. That is what I’ve come to see.
I’ve come to face a fear too. Ever since a small lime-green snake wriggled out of a crate of bananas in our general store when I was five years old and startled me to hysteria, I’ve feared snakes. Raised in a rural area but long a city dweller, I’ve recently reawakened my connection to nature. Hiking and camping in remote areas, I still find bears, wolverines and black widow spiders frighten me much less than snakes. The dry rustle of a snake in the grass raises the hairs on my neck instantly. Today is a good day to face that fear.
In the parking lot, a friendly Conservation officer gives out pamphlets and information about the snakes. An easy 3 km trail is designed so four snake dens can be viewed. At the first site, a snow fence separates the many human visitors from the den opening.
The sinkhole is in a stand of poplars, its rocky entrance covered with bright green moss in contrast to the brown wintered leaves and the darker highlighted greens of the snakes as they slide with keen grace.
Having overwintered below the frost line in deep caves eroded into the limestone bedrock, garter snakes emerge to mate. Starting in mid April for about four weeks, male snakes gather at the mouth of the dens waiting for females. As each female emerges, she is immediately beset with eager males, forming a mating ball.
Female garter snakes are easy to spot as they are thicker and longer than males. As I stand and watch, a female emerges from the darkness. With amazing speed dozens of males slither to engulf her. Moving over dry leaves and twigs, the snakes make a low static crackle, the appropriate soundtrack to their urgent impassioned dance.
Hundreds of males swarm about the female, a frenzied tangle that moves across the ground, over stones and around trees. Two more mating balls suddenly appear, snakes seem to materialize out of nowhere.
The snakes have drawn a good crowd on this warm Sunday. Small children react with either silent awe or curious delight. A German man, talking excitedly, holds a snake up to his companion who looks on in disgust. A white-haired woman squeals in fear, saying how much she dislikes snakes. Her shrieks mix with the joyous cries of her grandchildren as they interact with the critters. A crackle of ancient fear arises in me when a small male slithers over the toe of my boot.
Oblivious to our fears and our presence the preoccupied snakes mate on. The Eros of all those fleshy bodies entwined in procreativity is almost palpable. The spring air is rich with the aromas of thawed earth. The trees are early budding; the poplars give off their sticky smell.
It is a pleasant stroll along the trail in the warm sun. At each den, mating balls have formed, the biological imperative fully engaged. At one stop, a large ball of snakes has climbed four feet up a poplar sapling. Like a drop of water, the ball splashes snakes when it falls. Within a few seconds the ball re-forms and rolls away.
Once mated, female garter snakes disperse over an area of 30,000 hectares to have their live young in one of the many marshes or rocky bluffs that make excellent snake habitat. Some travel 25 kms or more from the dens. When all the females have mated and gone, the males leave as well.
Because they are cold-blooded, snakes must follow the cycle of the seasons closely. Adult garter snakes return to their hibernation dens when the weather begins to cool in September. Juvenile snakes stay where they summer, finding an animal burrow or crevasse that reaches below the frost line. The next fall they will migrate to a den and join thousands of their kind to overwinter.
If a mating ball has a hundred snakes in it, I try to imagine what it must look like with tens of thousands of snakes in a sleeping heap deep underground. That image leaves a thin film of sweat on my scalp as I sidestep a garter snake on my way to the car.
Did I face my fear? It was a beginning. Will I return to the snake dens? Yes, I must.
It was only a beginning.
“We never know how we will affect people by just being who we are.” – Chris Scholl
Looking back over my six decades as Reid Dickie, I see patterns that define who I am. The older I get and the more honest I am with myself, the more evident my patterns become. Recurring events and themes that were confusing and unhappy at the time now make sense in the long view. By seeking out our patterns, we make ourselves wise, wise about ourselves and others, wise about the world. The trade-off in this life is wisdom for youth. As our bodies age and start to limit us, we are given the opportunity to become wise, to blossom mentally, possibly spiritually. Wisdom is not guaranteed though. It takes work.
A major pattern of my life has been luck. Starting when I was a little boy I can recall my father often saying to me that I had a lucky horseshoe up my bum. When your father tells you something like that, you tend to take it literally which I did until Mom explained what he meant. Dad was trying to tell me what a lucky boy I was. In the long view, he was right, as ever! Dad’s wisdom flowed smoothly and naturally through him. He inspired me more and more intensely the older and wiser he got. Every day I aspire to become like him. I have my work cut out for me.
Whether I was born lucky or grew into it, the horseshoe became a lifelong symbol and reminder of my good fortune. It certainly contributed to the notion that we create our own luck. Here’s an example of creating my own luck.
I am one of those incredibly lucky people who knew from a young age what I wanted to do with my life, what I wanted to “be.” When I was eleven I decided I would become a radio announcer, more specifically a disc jockey. I remember earnestly discussing this with my parents when I was about 12. Although, as parents do, they both had higher aspirations for their only child: Mom wanted a doctor and Dad wanted…huh? Dad wanted me to be myself. Whoever that was or would be, that’s what Dad wanted me to “be.” Thanks Dad. Though Mom persisted good-naturedly with the doctor thing, we all decided that if I wanted to be a disc jockey, I’d be a damn good one and go to school to learn how it was done well. And I did.
After two years studying Radio and television Arts at Ryerson in Toronto, I got my first radio job in Flin Flon at CFAR where I was DJ, news reader, commercial writer and general joeboy. I loved it! I had made the right choice. Nine months later, in 1971, I got on at CKX in Brandon where I did the all-night show for 23 months. Five nights a week, starting at 1 a.m., I played whatever music I wanted for four hours then two hours of country music from 5 to 7 a.m. and I was done. I loved it! In the summer of 1973 I got a job in a major market – Winnipeg on CFRW-FM. At the time CFRW-FM simulcast the AM station for 18 hours a day and let me free range in their FM band for the other six. Again I could play or do whatever I wanted…and did. I loved it!
Hairy and happy, this is a picture of me in the CFRW-FM studio about 1974. There are more pics of me from my radio days in the Gallery.
For a short time after I got there, CFRW-FM studios were in the Confederation Building on the bend on Winnipeg’s Main Street. The station moved across the street to the old CKY radio studios near Main and McDermot. (The building is gone now.) The FM studio happened to be the very same studio where the CKY DJs who inspired me to work in radio did their shows in the early 1960s. I had come full circle. I had been devoured by the medium and spit out nightly on air, free to do and be whoever I wanted in a major market! It was the fruition of my dream from when I was eleven, a little bit of heaven, a luxury that few DJs thereafter ever got to experience. I created my radio fantasy for nearly two years before CHUM from Toronto bought both stations, turning FM into heavily-formatted CHIQ-FM.
CHUM buying CFRW-FM was another irony of my radio career. When I attended Ryerson in Toronto, I listened to CHUM-FM which was a terrific free-form radio station, a creative leader. CHUM-FM inspired the style of radio I would do in my early career but, in Winnipeg, CHUM was eliminating free-form radio in favour of tight formats.
Since its inception in the 1930s, FM radio had largely been a commercial mystery to broadcasters. Its stereo capacity attracted classical music but it wasn’t until the 1960s that FM’s commercial potential began to be exploited. First it was free-form radio, alternative, hippie stations that played lots of new music, had no format and played no hits. This was the first hint that FM held enormous possibilities to make money. By the mid-1970s FM had come under the thumb of the “format geniuses” and the end of free-form loomed. I was among the last DJs on a commercial station to create radio without formats or any kind of restrictions, other than playing the Club Beer commercials after 10 p.m. College and university radio stations would provide the next opportunity for people to create free-form radio. I was very lucky.
CFRW-FM added to my luck because it was there I met Linda. She worked in various capacities at the station, one of which was to give me a wake-up call about 1:00 every the afternoon. Linda lived in my neighbourhood so we started to hang out together, fell madly in love and spent the next thirty-three years together. Again, lucky, lucky!
Since getting online ten years ago, I have been contacted out of the blue by three former radio listeners who remember my work at CFRW-FM. All three claimed that my words and music left an indelible impression on their lives, whether it was their taste in music, their outlook on life or as an example of personal freedom. Recently one former listener contacted me and I hope he won’t mind if I quote his first email: I just wanted to let you know that you had a most profound affect on my life. I listened to your radio show on CFRW FM nearly every night. I`m talking about the show you did from 8pm -2am. Your words and music have stayed with me in my life. Right now I can barely type these words as memories keep flooding back. I am glad I was able to finally tell these things to you. Thank you so much. And remember “the harder you pull, the tighter it gets”.
I was surprised, humbled and overwhelmed by this email. I am enormously grateful to this man for sharing with me. Talk about a day-maker! As my friend Chris pointed out in this post’s opening quote, we never know the positive change we make in the world by simply being ourselves, by following our bliss. But every once in a while…
Lucky, very lucky!!
In the cemetery of the church yard around St. Francois Xavier Roman Catholic Church in St. Francois Xavier, MB stands a huge tree, once magnificent in every season, now dead every day. On its naked branches, some entangled in the church steeple, European starlings gather to discuss important bird business. In the neighbourhood, Rover barks at imaginery foes, halftons roll past one by one and the dead are patient, as ever. Click the pic to watch my latest video, Tree Birds Dog Trucks Dead.
UPDATE: As of summer 2013, the tree has been cut down, just a low stump remains.
The cat you see above is my buddy, Tulu. Linda and I found Tulu at an animal shelter about 18 months before Linda died. Tulu won the lottery then lost half of it, so to speak. She’s a beautiful little cat. If you look closely you can see Linda reflected in her eyes when she took the picture.
I grew up in a small town but every summer of my youth I spent at least two weeks on the farm of my Aunt Ina and Uncle Derk. Located about four miles from the northern face of Riding Mountain, their farm had a magnificent view of the mountain and surrounding plains.
Edwards Creek ran along the edge of their property. Aunt Ina and I spent endless summer afternoons sitting next to the little stream, watching the birds and critters that came to drink, marvelling at the darting minnows and feeling right at home. Ina and Derk are long dead, their farmhouse, though now abandoned, stands white stucco with a red roof against its overgrown willow windbreak and Edwards Creek still bubbles along. I spent some time wading in Edwards Creek this summer and brought back a short video report. Join me in the cool refreshing water.