Duck

Tick Tock…

FreedomI know, I know. After ‘The Pressure to Blog’, I promised I would try and write more. And I have tried. I haven’t really succeeded, but I do have an excuse – I’ve been blogging less because we’ve been living more. I couldn’t quite put it into prose without a bullet-pointed list, so I wrote a pome (with some tenuous rhyming phrases) instead:

 

The drums of time are beating on,

With all of life’s demands.

But this time, life is really fun,

More cooking than washing of pans…

 

A road trip, a hike, a surf in the sea

Have been keeping us busy and so –

The blogging and writing just take a back seat

And wait for ideas to grow.

 

But ideas come slowly when living carefree,

And sat watching The Turtles outside.

And talking of whales, and bears, and bald eagles,

Seems like bragging, not passion and pride.

 

I wanted to write about sunsets and views

But thought that’d be sappy, at best.

I wanted to write about me in a wetsuit,

But you’d be sick before you’d read all the rest!

 

The visits, the laughs, the friendships we’ve made

Are making this summer so great.

The playlists, the tennis, the ‘Scatch’ that we’ve played

Make all of my blog posts too late.

 

I’m aware that this time will not last forever,

So we’re laughing and eating ice-cream,

Before we return to real life’s endeavours

And this time of our lives is a dream.

 

So I’m sorry, my readers, if I’m not very good

At keeping my blog up to date.

I’ll write more of it down – and I know that I should –

To stop you all having to wait!

Sunset

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Live a life that matters…

Having heard some sad news recently, I found myself re-reading a poem that I first encountered a few years ago:

Ready or not it will come to an end.

There will be no more sunrises, no more minutes, hours or days,

All the things you collected, whether treasured or forgotten

Will pass to someone else.

Your wealth, fame and temporal power will shrive to irrelevance.

It will not matter what you owned or what you were owed.

Your grudges, resentments, frustrations and jealousies will finally disappear.

So too, your hopes, ambitions, plans and to-do lists will expire.

The wins and losses that once seemed so important will fade away.

It won’t matter where you came from,

Or what side of the track you lived on in the end.

It won’t matter whether you were beautiful or brilliant.

Even your gender and skin colour will be irrelevant.

So what will matter? How will the value of your days be measured?

What will matter is not what you bought but what you built.

Not what you got, but what you gave.

What will matter is not your successes but your significance.

What will matter is not what you learned but what you taught.

What will matter is every act of integrity, compassion, courage and sacrifice.

That enriched, empowered or encouraged others to emulate your example.

What will matter is not your competence, but your character.

What will matter is not how many people you knew,

But how many will feel a lasting loss when you are gone.

What will matter is not your memories,

But the memories that live on in those who love you.

What will matter is how long will you be remembered, by whom and for what.

Living a life that matters doesn’t happen by accident.

It is not a matter of circumstances but of choice.

CHOOSE A LIFE THAT MATTERS

[Author unknown]

I got to thinking about how to make a life well lived, a life that matters. If you believe the popular hype, your life is all about you. You have to ‘enjoy every moment’ and ‘act like every day is your last’. Ok. Of course, aiming to enjoy every minute is a great goal. If you manage to enjoy even half of the waking minutes of your life then you’re really not doing too badly. But actually, this won’t get you down to the roots of it. It’s a great start: so, you’ve enjoyed your life. But when it comes down to it, who really cares about that apart from you? Your memoirs are your memories; and unless they make the best-seller list you take them with you when you go.

No, there must be more to it. How can you combine the ‘really matter’ and the ‘really enjoy yourself’? It might be that you have to take the ‘you’ out of the equation. You have to start thinking about your impact, and that might even get you on the path of thinking about….gulp….others. And not in a “well I give three quid a month to Cancer Research, that’s charity, yeah??” or “I gave that homeless guy the rest of my Big Mac when I was drunk, I’m such a great person”. Nope. I’m talking about deep impact, a legacy, and that means developing a constant awareness of your affect on other people.

I guess you would start by ‘putting-others-first’. Be a good person! Ouch. Giving to charity, being the friend for those in need, cat-sitting your cousin’s kitten despite your allergy to fur? It can’t just be that, though. The people who have had the greatest impact on my life, the ones I’ll always remember, aren’t especially good people, or particularly selfless. They influenced me because they guided me, developed me and made me a better person. Maybe, to live a life that matters, to have an impact, you don’t have to be a better person – you have to help others become better people. And by doing that, maybe you can become that better person anyway – which would be a nice bonus!

What will matter is not your successes but your significance.

What will matter is not what you learned but what you taught

But to make an impact on the world, the first place you have to start is with you. And close behind, there has to be the others. The rest is about what you do with it. The rest is history.

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The pressure to blog….

Awake in the night….

Wings sweating, stuffing beating rapidly…

The pressure to blog has arrived.

I find it hard to describe fully what the pressure to blog feels like, but I liken it to when I put off doing washing until I’m down to the very last skin pair of pants. Or when I just have to finish on internet banking when the laptop is dying and the charger is all the way over the other side of the room. Not to worry, you don’t need to rely on my terrible descriptions to gain a better understanding of the emotional torment that is misery blogging. The time continuum chart of pleasure-guilt of blogging has been closely and scientifically studied by me researchers around the world and they have come up with something a little like this:

Very scientific research done by scientists

Very scientific research done by scientists

Now, people may consider the impact and implications of this highly scientific chart and wonder why on earth one would get into this vicious blogging world, and that would be a very good question. The pressure to blog can come from many sources, internal and external, and these can build and build to a crippling point of no return. The point where every great idea you’ve noted down for the past three months suddenly looks like something from the National Enquirer recycle bin. The point where every sentence you write is deleted ten times before settling on one that just doesn’t sound quite right. And the point where you delay putting finger to keyboard or pen to paper day after day, waiting for that ‘inspiration’ that’s definitely going to come tomorrow…right?!

Wrong.

What I have discovered over the last 6 weeks is that you can’t just wait for inspiration to come if you’re going to ride the wild ride that is blogging. There will be natural peaks and troughs in both inspiration and motivation that you have to learn to manage – though probably not control – so you’re not MIA for weeks on end. Obviously, there will be those times when you just-have-to-write-that-down-and-share-it-with-the-world, but there will also be the quieter times, times when you can spend a little longer thinking and crafting a post that might start out crap less inspired than the others, but may evolve into one of the most insightful things you have ever written.

The point is – if you don’t actually write it down, you’ll never know….

….See you in 6 weeks….. 😉

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Not just for humans

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Posh? Or just getting standards in my old age?

I always considered myself a bit of a working class Duck, as my whole purpose in life is to be a life-partner style companion to Kate. A Duck-in-Waiting, if you will. So, because of this, I thought I might feel a little out of place at Royal Ascot on Saturday when I had the opportunity to go. I got myself all dressed up, made sure there were enough skins layers to keep me warm, and set off.

I have to say, my initial impression was one of great excitement and anticipation. I was surrounded by beautifully turned out ladies and gentlemen, top hats and tails and everything! Bottles of champagne popped around my ears and I basked in this glimpse into the upper echelons of society, enjoying a window into their world. This.did.not.last.long!

We strolled through to the main part, where we were going to daintily sit around eating crumpets and drinking tea (or something like that), but when the man on the ticket gate took our raspberry liqueur off us because it was ‘spirits’ (come off it!), I had a sinking feeling – and I’m a Duck…sinking feelings tend to be bad! This was further compounded when we got in and were instantly engulfed by a huge crowd of mingling people (and a husband and wife having a tearful row) struggling to find a tiny patch of grass that we could call home for the following 4 racing hours. When we eventually found a tiny patch miles away from everywhere and still surrounded by people, we were able to place our bets in peace. This lasted all of 15 minutes when, out of nowhere, slices of bread flew through the air. Then half a French stick. Then a Ginsters pasty landed in the middle of our picnic food. Hmm. Our afternoon was punctuated by a variety of different baked goods landing on or near our picnic area, groups of inebriated fellows plumbing the depths of the English language and then followed up by witnessing a  fist fight on the way back to the car-park. The only conclusion I can draw from this experience is that working class or no working class, I may be too much of a snob to enjoy Royal Ascot. I think I need to go up in the world…how do you get tickets to the Chelsea Flower Show? I think that may be more my scene.

 

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Introducing a new duck to our herd…swarm…pack….

WHAT THE HELL IS A GROUP OF DUCKS CALLED?!

Hmmm! Apparently it depends on the type of duck. We have some fairly exotic ways of identifying ourselves in the plural form…badelynge, bunch, brace, flock, paddling, raft or team. It’s also possible to have a ‘dover’ of ducks…Yep, I’ve never heard of many of those either. Not sure about ‘team’ – it seems a bit sad, a bit ‘Gooo Team Duck’ – not really my scene. But if it depends on the type of duck, then therein lies the problem we face – the new addition to our ….family…. of ducks is a different breed to me! In all honesty, I don’t quite know what I am, but the new thing is yellow, big and wears a hat (see photo). We’re fairly different, all things considered, so our collective may have to wait until we identify our relationship to each other!

Our new addition is called Saffy (short for Saffron and rhymes with Daffy…as in Duck) ‘cos he’s yellow. Yes, another key bit of info there, he’s a boy too. I can already see that we’re going to be great friends, especially as he’s volunteered to go on a lot of the photo opps that I was worried about doing. And he’s lent his lovely new, green labels to me. They are of excellent quality and will suit me down to the ground.

Having just done a quick Wikipedia of different collective nouns, there are some excellent phrases. I think my favourite is a ‘rabble’ of butterflies – surely that couldn’t be further from the floaty truth? I also liked a ‘gulp’ of cormorants, or a ‘murder’ of crows. Now that one is appropriate….bloody hate crows. Another couple of gems – a ‘piteousness’ of doves (haha, stupid beautiful doves!), a ‘whoop’ of gorillas and a ‘bloat’ of hippopotamuses. A ‘smack’ of jellyfish and a ‘scream’ of swifts. After discussion with Saffy, we’re going to be serious contenders in the duck world….we are going to adopt the collective ‘mob’ (SO much better than a ‘knob’ of wildfowl…seriously!).

So…on that note….”Introducing a new duck, Saffy, to our mob”. I’m sure we’ll be seeing a lot of you in the future!

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Not exactly a walk in the park…

Being a stuffed animal has its plus points – you don’t have to wash up, you don’t have to be the designated driver, and you don’t have to walk on the perilous shared foot- and cycle- paths of this fine country. No case finer in point than this weekend. A real highlight of my lovely weekend with Kate’s friends (let’s call them S and N!) was a midday stroll by the river. My natural habitat, I enjoyed the fresh air, the tranquillity, the company, the tinkle of a little cycle bell, a skidding sound and…. BANG….S got taken out from behind by an old woman on a bike. Whoa, Old Woman!

Despite profuse apologies from both sides, the old woman refused to accept the “I’m ok, it’s fine” answer and needed to torture herself with S’s gruesome injuries – she grabbed the hand with the ‘puncture’ wound and almost burst into tears, refusing to let go of it, stroking it – one step away from rubbing it on her face – like she could fix it through reiki. She offered her phone number, which was graciously refused (not sure if it was for litigation or future masochistic friendship potential), and as awkward as this was, it was also hilarious as she proceeded to tell S that she would be too shaken up to cycle home after all the trauma…..and then got back on her bike and cycled away at a steady pace….

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What do a duck and a bike have in common? They both have handle bars except for the duck

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Never knew this was how pandas got made!

Never knew this was how pandas got made!

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You need them more than they need you…

My favourite part of the day today had to be the bit where Kate showed me this:

I know they’re in a different league to me, what with their fur and stuff, but I often try to perfect my Look and it’s nice that these things don’t go unnoticed. The baby bear one is my personal fave – it reminds me of my mate Ted – the original miserable bugger!
On a different note, got my summer skins out of storage last night – been getting far too clammy and moist in the winter layers. They’re hanging up as I speak, waiting for the creases to drop out…
*10 and a half weeks*
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Now it’s my turn to speak…

My name is Duck. People also call me ‘stuffed animal’, ‘Frankenstein’ and ‘what the hell is that thing?!’. I live with Kate and Chris and we are currently preparing to make a big move to Vancouver. They’ve sold it to me on the basis that I can hook up with some Canada geese (the bad boys of the bird world!), as I am getting a bit old for big trips now – I’m 25  which is 232 in duck years so I get a bit tired!

Kate and Chris have been going on and on about this trip and they’ve even made a list of all the places they want to see (pretty sad if you ask me!). I have looked over it, though, and decided to include it, as I am sure we’ll be seeing a lot of it in the future months:

Big trips:

1. Vancouver island and Victoria

2. Rocky mountain trip – Banff, Jasper, etc!!

3. Alaska

4. Whistler (and sea to sky highway)

5. Whale watching

Local things to see/do:

1. Granville island

2. Lynn Canyon

3. Grouse mountain (annual y2play ski pass already purchased!!)

– learn to ski (ever seen a duck on skis?!)

– go zip lining (bit like flying!)

– eye of the wind tour

4. Stanley park   – remember how to cycle!! (or sit in a basket at the front of a bike)

5. Jericho beach

6. Deep Cove

7. North Shore

8. The Aquarium

9. Science Museum

10.Sea plane trip

My main concern is the massive bed bug problem, but I’ve been assured by Kate (with help from http://www.bedbugregistry.com/ – yes there is a real site for bed bugs to register on!!) that Kitsilano might be a safe place for me to spread my wings (inside, obviously).  I’ll be updating a bit before we go with some other useful stuff that I pick up whilst looking over Kate’s shoulder. It’s gonna be a big adventure for an old bird with one leg!

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