Author Archives: lbidal

Playing Catchup


Okay, so it’s 5:38 NL time and I’m bored out of my skull already. I’m sitting in a wee little room in Gander and am remided that just a year ago, I was pretty much doing the same thing…EXCEPT…here I am feeling safe and freezing my cahoney’s off.

A short synopsis since the last time I posted…let’s see, lots of stuff going on. First and foremost, Cameron has been on his own since the middle of February. We shipped him out to Manitoba to start his career and I’ve missed him, and worried about him ever since…guess that’s the new norm for me now. But he’s doing great just as I knew he would. I love you buddy.

I had a great summer birding and hanging out with those I love and missed during the time I was away. Looking back now though, I realize that my head was still somewhere else.. although at the time it didn’t feel like it. Lots of hugs and kisses to Tim for being there for me during that time post South Sudan. You’re the best babes.

Some accomplishments since being back…yeah, yeah, pride comes before a fall! LOL. At least it will be on record now.

3rd place in the CAF photography contest for my Monkey mom and baby picture.

2nd place in the Sierra Club photo contest for a picture of a yellow warbler

Ruffed Grouse picture featured on the Cornell of Ornithology Facebook page with a write up from the staff

Canada Warbler picture featured on the cover of the Spring issue of the NSBS magazine

2 pictures of mine are now being displayed at the Museum of Natural History..have yet to get to see them

All in all, my hobby has become very gratifying and I am only getting better I think. Practice makes perfect. 🙂

In October I was sent to Gander for 2 months…at the time I didn’t think that was a great idea, however, it turned out to be the best thing that happened for me (careerwise) since before leaving Kingston. I came back with my confidence…the people here are beyond friendly and a little appreciation for my skills and knowledge went a long way to restoring it.

We had a lovely and quiet Christmas break spending time with loved ones and counting down the days until Cameron left.

I am now back in Gander for another fairly long stint but enjoying it no less, even with the cold.

I was fortunate and traversed to Goose Bay this week…finally got to see my Ptarmigans I had so desparately wanted to find!

Willow Ptarmigan

As you can see, I played with my watermark and figured out how to make it look a tad more professional.

Now where was I? Oh yes, other than that, things have been pretty quiet. I will finish working here and then I will be off on another adventure at an Artillary unit…should be great..I’ll get every Friday off for working some nights during the month. Love it! More twitching time!

I believe that I will also be allowed to do Public Affairs work there as well, which means that all my photography equipment will be provided (albeit Nikon!!!) so that I will be able to go out and get pictures of the boys in action. Can’t wait!

I want to send a shout out to my new friends here in Gander who may not know that I am an on and off blogger…

Angie! Your open arms my first day here have not yet closed and I thank you! Always keep them open for me. 🙂

Lori! I know you won’t see this because you’re not on Facebook but what a time! Can’t wait to spend St. Patty’s day in Buchans!

Juanita! We only just met and hung out together for a couple of weeks before such tragedy parted us…but we met for a reason and although it may not be clear yet, the reason will make itself known.

For all of you gals, as soon as we met, there was a connection and I feel like we’ve known each other for a lot longer than we have…I wonder if I was a Newf in my previous life?

OH YEAH! I forgot, I also got screeched in the last time I was here….kissed a cod and everyting! Now I’m a true blue honorary Newf by!

I’ll leave you not promising to keep this up while I’m here…but a promise that I will try. Here are some scenic pics from the last time.

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Soldiermomma signing off

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2014 in review


The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,800 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 47 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

22 May 2014 – Update


So, it’s been a busy week since getting back home. First the Prom Proposal, then the Bon Portage weekend, and yesterday was more Prom preparation.

Of course I started it off with some birding in my area. I had to! It was such a wonderful sunny morning and they were all out there calling to me!

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After a couple of hours of getting out in the fresh air and sun and spending the time in great company (thanks Donna), I scurried back home to get ready to go pick the kids up…on the agenda was Graduation Photos and Prom preparations. It brought a tear to my eye as I watched Cameron sitting there with cap and gown on…I still see him as a little boy. It’s hard to believe that he’s all grown up now…well, relatively! LOL

We then went to Moore’s to get his Tuxedo all set up….what a chore that was! Can’t wait until the final fitting to see it all put together. I think we were able to color coordinate based on Ashley’s dress…hope it all works out.

Then off to pick out boutonniere and wrist corsage and we ended the day with ice cream together. I will miss him when he goes away for the summer. 😦

Plans for Prom night include a picture taking session at Public Gardens, dinner with the parents at the Grand Taj and then off to the ball for 8 pm. I am really looking forward to it!

So, off to get some housework done…although the birds are still calling me, the weather is not so great so it’s forcing me to stay and do some of the mundane things in life.

That’s it for today

soldiermomma signing off

10 May 2014 – Last Post


I woke up early this morning, ready to face the remainder of the time I have left here in South Sudan.

Ironically, the leaders of the warring factions here, will probably sign a peace deal. How long this will last, remains to be seen. This country has a long, hard road ahead of it.

This whole tour had made me rethink my career path. But upon closer reflection, I wonder what else I can do? Nothing comes to mind, so I will plod on through the rest of my years in service, doing the best that I can under whatever circumstances I am asked to do it under….regardless of how others view my performance.

Yesterday was a tearful one. I said good bye to Rose and Irene. I only wish the best for them.

Edward brought a roasted goat for supper and I had one last opportunity to find out about some of the culture in his country of Kenya…he was explaining the symbolism of the goat shoulder at a wedding…how once married, the woman slices the meat up and serves it to the husband and then symbolically cuts the shoulder joint as a severance to her home and family to which she can never go back. Kind of cool.

As I sit on the balcony drinking my coffee for the last time in Juba, I try to capture some of good things over this past six months that I will miss.

I find things that I have tired of, and some that I have not.
I have not yet tired of watching the kites gliding on the drafts, dog fighting over food and swooping across at eye level in front of me.

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I have not yet tired of the squeaky wheel shrikes and their antics as the flock of them land on wires and play leap frog, jockeying for position.

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I have not yet tired of the sweet little Red Cheeked Cordon Bleu finches and their whistling calls to one another across the compound.

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I have not yet tired of watching the ugliest bird in the world soaring high overhead with a majestic wingspan that rivals the albatross.

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I have not yet tired of watching the flocks of egrets flying by the house while the sun rises and peeks out above the horizon.

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I have not yet tired of cooing pigeons and doves, the complex calls of the weavers that have moved in, the crazy bulbuls or the pied crow that is looking for a mate in our windows.

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I certainly haven’t tired of the friends I have made here….Irene and Rose

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Rambo, Ibrahim, Goefrey…

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And finally, Edward and Philip (Rafiki)….they will always have a special place in my heart and my memory.

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And let’s not forget my new friends I  made just before leaving, Janelle and Anita!

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What I have tired of is being away from my loved ones.

For all that was good here, it was tempered with the not so good. I have experienced the full range of emotions that we expect to go through while on a deployment…and some that we do not.

I guess I have been a part of history once again by coming here. Although I won’t have articles written about me and my name won’t be in any history books as having existed in this part of the world, I would like to think that those who have expressed the fact that they wish I wasn’t going, will hold me in their thoughts long after I have left.

This day closes a door and a chapter in my life. As Tim posted this morning, I think I will nail this door shut but I wonder where the next chapter will take me?

That’s it for today

soldiermomma signing off from Juba for good

 

7 May 2014 – Update


For Ashley and Cameron.
Only 3 days and a wakie left before I head back to put my feet on Canadian soil!

The time since my last posting has gone very quickly and I realized that the ordinary stuff that I haven’t written about, may not be so ordinary to everyone else.

We have been fortunate to be able to have house gatherings again and I have spent time hanging with my two new friends, Janelle and Anita. Ironically, I make friends with people that I would love to have spent my whole tour with, 2 weeks from the end of it.

It would seem, at least on the surface, that the crew that is here now is going to have the kind of tour that I had expected. I wish them all the best and I pray for a peaceful six months for them so they don’t leave with the lasting impressions of this country that I have.

Friday is going to be a rough day. I will say good bye to the girls, Irene and Rose. I have gift bags ready and full of little things I thought they would like…but it will be hard to leave them behind here.

Tomorrow is going to be my farewell luncheon so that promises to be a good time and for the rest of the time before I go, I plan to relax and decompress a little by the water reservoir.

I will have one more post after this and just before I leave.

That’s it for today.

soldiermomma signing off.

1 May 2014 – Another Rant


Well, it would seem that I have a lot to rant about lately.

Remember the arrogant terd I wrote about awhile ago? You know, I had almost put aside my opinions to give the guy a chance and then he did it again.

Someone needs a pick up at the airport today and at some point after I turned in last night, an email was sent to me. The person requiring transportation asked if someone could make sure they were there to get him. I was always planning this, but he was just making sure. He sent the email to me and the terd.

Wanna know the response? First, the terd said he couldn’t do it because he has some meeting with some high up person some place in the city…name dropping and status building…can’t stand it!

Then, he proceeds to ask if I can go “fetch” the person at the airport! Grrrrrrr….I can go pick him up, I can go meet him, I can make sure there’s a drive back for him….but FETCH him! Not impressed!

Guess my first impressions were bang on and he won’t get a second chance with this gal!

Rant over

That’s it for today

soldiermomma signing off

30 April 2014- Spoiled Rotten


I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again… we are so fortunate to live in a country that, for all intents and purposes, provides for it’s citizen’s needs.

As I watch and listen to some of the comments that are being made by the new folks coming in, I realize, once again, how very much we take for granted, and very arrogant we must seem to others at times.

I also realize why people who have so little, regard those that seemingly have a lot, get frustrated to hear things like “oh, the water is so hard here. I had to rinse my hair a lot and it still didn’t feel clean.” Or, “the light in my bathroom isn’t working…how can I ever see to use it in the middle of the night?” or “well, the cleaners didn’t clean my bathroom.”

WAKE UP PEOPLE! We are in South Sudan, deemed to be the poorest country on this continent at the moment. What did you expect??? North American living standards? Clean your own damn toilet if you don’t like it! WOW!

When I knew I was coming here, I had envisioned living on a camp such as I did in Bosnia, with cramped living accommodations, a room mate, having to walk to take a shower or use the washroom, bad food, and all the other things that go with being on a deployment. Hell, in Afghanistan, most lived in huge tents with 10 other people and only had a bedspace to call their own.

When I found out what our living situation was going to be like, I was ecstatic! I never expected hot water, a shower, internet, my own room, an apartment, tv, satellite etc. And when I look around at the living conditions of much of the population, yeah, I’ll the hard water that is clean and which can actually be consumed safely, I’ll take the roof over my head that keeps the storms out, I’ll take the substandard kitchen and appliances and I’ll take the fact that I have a lumpy mattress and a bed to sleep in. This is heaven compared to what others here have!

 

I have to say that I am so happy that we had the crew that we did while all that bad stuff was going on here…they were humble, they were experienced, they got it! I’m sure the new crew will figure it out, I just hope that they keep comments like that to themselves while swimming in the fire reservoir…I’m insulted by it and I can’t imagine what someone lives in some of the worst conditions would think to hear such things.

Rant over

That’s it for today

soldiermomma signing off

29 April 2014 – Crazy


Sorry folks, it’s been a few days since I posted.
Since you last heard from me, my friend got through her surgery with flying colors and is on the mend. Whew.

People have been coming and going and for the time I’m here, this is the thrust of my job.
Saturday was lovely. I spent a few hours with Janelle, my Aussie counterpart. We had lunch, lounged in the sun, swam a little (this is the first time I’ve done that in a couple of months) and had a good long girl talk…something I’ve missed since Beth left.

Then Sunday the new crew came in and Ken and I have been running around like chickens with our heads cut off! Sunday evening we had some people over for a BBQ and I got to meet my Norwegian counterpart, Anita…so two new friends in just a couple of days…of course, this is right before I leave, so it kind of sucks.
Good news! I finally have my flight booked home! 10 days and a wakie and I will be on Canadian soil! Yeehaw!

I also found out my son is now driving, had his wisdom teeth out and is going to work for the summer in Gagetown. Wow, things change so fast!

I found out that both my first and last names are used here in Africa. I was kind of astonished at this, but in my usual crazy manner, I held out my arm to the guy and I told him that I had been working on my tan but I wasn’t quite there in color. He thought that was funny, laughed and shook my hand on that one. Oddly enough, he was the second person to tell me this about my last name…weird.

Today’s events make for a good story, so here it goes.

Fluffball has gotten a lot of his adult feathers and is really getting big..in just over 2 weeks since hatching, he is looking like a pigeon now. He is going to have the coloring of his father and it looks as if he may have his spats as well!

The netting that was being used as part of their nest turned against them today…which is what I was afraid of. I can always tell when dad is there feeding him…he cheeps like crazy and dad is just a ‘cooing while they are interacting.

Today’s noises didn’t sound right…fluffball sounded like he was in distress. I looked over to check on them, and sure enough, it looked as if he had gotten wrapped up in the netting. I looked at Ken and I said, “I can’t do this….” Once Ken looked and saw what was going on, he whipped out his multi-tool, said let’s open the window, and immediately started cutting the caulking around the window so we could get it open (we had it sealed against flooding).
It took some doing, but once he was able to open it, I gently reached down and disconnected the netting from one end….when I got a good look at junior there, he really was all rolled up and in the netting upside down…dad had been there trying to feed him and couldn’t. He took off when we started making a lot of noise. Anyway, I then very gently starting to pull the netting out of the area of the nest and while doing so, I was able to unroll him and get him out.
Then the little gaffer started to walk toward the open end and the ledge where I was afraid he would fall off! I didn’t realize he could walk yet!
Sooo, I then got a piece of cardboard which Ken put into place at the end to keep him from harm.
He settled back in nicely and seemed content.
I was then hoping I hadn’t completely scared dad away from the nest…but it was a calculated risk that paid off. Not 15 minutes later, dad was back, and baby got well needed meal. A beautiful happy ending!

Yes, I did try to take a pic…figured I couldn’t do much more harm at this point if my efforts didn’t work. We sealed the window up, but I failed to realize that I didn’t have a memory card in the camera when I was snapping away! Oi!

So I contented myself with snapping a few through the window. I think at some times of the day they can see me or they can sense when someone is there…dad doesn’t like to be disturbed, but junior hears my voice and starts jumping up and down peeping. It’s kind of cute.

Anyway, I figure if  I can’t do much good for the people here, but I can come home knowing that I helped preserve some of the wildlife that is so scarce….even if it is a dirty pigeon.

That’s it for today

soldiermomma signing off

25 April 2014 – Cancer


I was going to post this yesterday and I chickened out. Turns out that someone else I know was going to do a write up on the same subject, and she chickened out as well.

So here goes.

This subject has been on my mind in the wake of knowing one of my friends who goes in for a double mastectomy today. She has commented on whether or not she will have the same courage as a teenage girl who put her shirtless picture up on FB after having this same surgery….I say YES, she will and does have the same survivor spirit!

I have been affected by cancer as well…although not afflicted with the disease personally, I have been the victim of cancer in the sense that I have witnessed it taking lives of people close to me that were all too young to pass from this world.

In light of this, my heart has been heavy as I remember two of those who have gone before me (both were very close to my age) and I had hoped that by writing this blog, I could put those thoughts aside and find some peace of mind, but I find I can’t go any further on this subject. It’s still too painful, even after all these years.

Change of subject.

In other news, our little fluffball is starting to stand on his own two legs and moves around a lot in the nest….his feathers are coming in nicely and he is the typical demanding nestling, cheeping constantly for food when the parents are around. I still can’t tell if he is going to have white or dark feathers…maybe it will be both. He is huge and when I go near the window and talk to him, he rises up on his little legs and flaps his wings, cheeps at me looking for food. His eyes are wide open now and pretty soon he will be able to leave the nest.

We were delighted by a visiting Village Weaver yesterday…I love their song and it was lovely to sit and listen to him out in the tree. Hope he will come back and entertain us some more.

I can’t recall if I told you the story about one of the pilots I met at the airport coming in…the one that almost didn’t make it onto the plane to Juba because he was sent here with no Visa?? Anyway, he thought about calling me last night to see if I wanted to go out for dinner with him and his crew. It was a really nice gesture and he told me he had been sick with some form of exotic disease since he got to the city or he would have called before this. I will probably take him up on that offer very soon…even just a coffee for a change of scenery.

And, I am also hoping that my new Aussi counterpart is able to make it to the house to visit tomorrow so we can have some girl time! I still miss you Beth!

The old crew heads out today and the new crew comes in this weekend…next week will prove to be just as busy and then WOOT, my replacement is coming in a day earlier…doesn’t mean I go home a day earlier, it just means we have more time to get things sorted out before I hand him the reigns…and then I hope to get some cooking tips seeing as how he’s an amateur chef!

16 days!

That’s it for today

soldiermomma signing off

In Loving Memory of Charles and Ann Mary Bagley.

 

23 April 14 – Nijmegen Part Deux


AHA! I was going through my pictures and I found the rest of the ones I took from Nijmegen! I think I have Alzheimer’s….I forgot that I was at the opening ceremonies as well. Here are some more pictures to go along with my original story.

The bus ride to Vimy Ridge

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Me in one of the trenches at the frontlines of Vimy Ridge

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The Canadian Front Line…and if you look closely, way in the background, that’s the German Front Line….that’s how close they were to each other during the war.

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The Givenchy Road Canadian Cemetery at Vimy…such well kept Cemeteries in Europe

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Too many tombstones with epitaph to count.

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The Team at the entrance to the camp where we stayed….love the entrance!

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The Nijmegen 4 days march opening ceremonies.

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The Canadian Cemetery in Holland. You can see how hot and dry it was there….

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The painted rocks, flag and pictures that I laid at the grave site of Donna’s father, Private Alfred T Sedgman

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The cadet’s that went to the school that was named after him in Southern Ontario…tough kids!

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A calliope in Nijmegen town

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Interior of one of the oldest churches in the town

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One of the activities we participated in once the marches were cancelled…trying to stay cool.

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And finally, a view of the Bridge too far in Eindhoven from the clock tower window.

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That’s it for today

soldiermomma signing off