Mr. Charlton Moves to Victoria

After months of planning, saving, packing, and preparing, we’ve finally lumbered all of our belongings from one province to the next. A two day trip, 1300 or so kilometers, fifteen hours of driving, a three hour wait for the ferry, the number all added up to transplanting two people from Lethbridge, Alberta to Victoria, British Columbia. Since drawing up the schematics to move back in January, this is a trip that’s been in the making for a while.

Now we’re here, and after a week of unpacking, settling in, scouting out the neighborhood and taking a bit of a break, I’ve finally managed to set up the workhorse and crank out some words for the internet. As much as I love sitting by the beach in board shorts, it was time to plop down in front of the computer and write.

20170731_210544

I had to spend a bunch of time posing majestically, staring in the harbour before I sat down.

See, I could recount the fact that since we’ve arrived, Kat has dived into the ocean and removed five crabs from their homes. I could also recount that I’ve given them new homes inside of our bodies, by boiling the crabs then soaking their meat in butter. Crabs that look sort of like this.

20170803_200422

I know everyone is going to be looking at the crabs, but just so you know, that’s a medley of crooked-neck squash and spinach leaves in the bowl. I just want you to know that.

I could talk about how I finally live in a city again, and there’s a place not too far from home that sells Latin American food stuffs, or there’s a place that does nothing except charcuterie, or there’s a place that sells gentlemanly items like proper razor blades and humorous socks. But all these things take a back seat to the fact that once again I happen to be living in an actual city, even if it’s sort of a tiny city. Mr. Charlton thrives on space and people all over the place doing things in that space.

I might also talk about the idea that after well over a decade, I’ll have family around again. My brother lives in the city, and I have a mess of cousins and uncles and aunts that are dotted all over the West Coast. After fifteen years of being over in Alberta, I’ll actually be able to attend weddings and social gatherings without having to get on an airplane.

The most important thing to take away from this is that I no longer live in Lethbridge, Alberta. To extend that, I don’t even live in Alberta anymore. I now live in Victoria, BC, next to the ocean. I can pop my head out the window and see the ocean from here. I can hear the ocean waves pound the seawall. And I can drive half an hour out of the city to a craggy beach where my amazonian goddess of a girlfriend will literally dive in the ocean and catch live crabs with her bare hands.

20170801_084815

This picture was taken about 15 seconds before she spotted a crab and decided to leap in.

It’s going to be a year before I head back to school, so right now I’ll be saving some cash and catching up with family and friends who live in the area. So if you’re down on the coast, hit a guy up. I’m always willing to get a few beers and talk about small times. In the mean time, it’s incredibly nice to be home.

Sincerely,

The Illustrious Mr. Charlton

p.s. The crabs were utterly delicious. The mussels weren’t bad, but they weren’t good either. They’re out of season right now, and they tasted a little spawny.

20170801_181641

In the same breath, they were the goddamned biggest mussels I’ve ever actually laid eyes on.

p.s.s. Sure, it’s just crabs right now, but soon I’m going to be hunting for fresh oysters. And mussels. And clams. Pretty much any shellfish you can think of, I’ll eat.

p.s.s.s. The drive down itself from Lethbridge was pretty mundane, except for the fact that the entire province of British Columbia seems to be burning to the ground.

20170802_200543

It’s hazy in Victoria at the moment, because the smoke from the mainland is wafting over this way. Also, if it doesn’t rain in five days, this will be the driest summer that Victoria is ever had on record. This rain forest needs some rain!

 

Mayweather Vs. McGregor – Dumbest Sports Spectacle in the History of Combat Sports

People are hyped about the Mayweather / McGregor fight taking place on August 26th.

If you’re not familiar with the world of combat sports, I’ll break it down for you. Floyd “Money” Mayweather (49 – 0), one of the greatest boxers in the history of boxing, is stepping into the boxing ring with Connor “The Notorious” McGregor (Debut), the current UFC Lightweight champion. An undefeated boxing genius is stepping into a boxing ring with someone who’s never professionally stepped into a boxing ring. I couldn’t think of a more concise way to state this.

Sure, people seem to be loving the trash talk, and if there’s one thing both of these fighters are good at, it’s trash talking. The whole press junket’s been a insane spectacle. It’s been entertaining, to say the least.

I’m not an expert on combat sports, neither boxing or MMA. I’m a fan by proxy only, having a few good friends of mine who either enjoy the sport of boxing or mixed martial arts. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned about the whole debate between boxing and MMA, it’s that MMA fans really don’t understand the sport of boxing.

This fight is not a contest. There’s 0% chance of McGregor winning this fight. Not 5%, like some MMA experts are throwing out. Not even 1%. This is a show being put on by both Mayweather and McGregor. Their purses for the fight are absolutely massive. The fans are being taken for a ride. It’s not a competition, it’s a spectacle.

Connor McGregor is out of his element. He’s a fish out of water. He’s a great fighter in the Octogon. But this ain’t a cage, and there’s no sweeping legs, no arm bars, no holds, no takedowns. McGregor is considered one of the heaviest hitters in MMA, with phenomenal striking power. That’s in the MMA though. That’s in a sport where the contestants have a multitude of options at their disposal. McGregor’s stepping into a place where striking is the only option available.

I’m not here to talk about Mayweather’s character, I’m here to talk about his boxing prowess. He’s literally a boxing genius. Simply put, he might be the greatest boxer to have ever lived. Trying to hit him is like trying to smack a greased shadow. He comes from a family of boxing superstars. He’s been boxing his entire life.

Therein lies the problem with this match. It’s not a fight, it’s a boxing match. Most of the discussion ends up devolving into the argument that “In a real fight, in the streets, McGregor would win” or “McGregor would thrash Mayweather in the Octogon”. And sure, I could agree with both statements. But this isn’t a fight in the streets, and both competitors aren’t stepping into the Octogon. They’re stepping into a place where one of them has been the undefeated champion of that space for the last two decades.

Here’s an analogy. Let’s take a great billiards player, someone who’s got no issue putting balls into pockets. Now let’s strip him of his weird billiards outfit (usually a vest and tie) and put him in an equally weird golf outfit (khakis and a polo shirt). Set him up with some clubs and stick him on a golf course with Tiger Woods. Who do you think is going to win? I’m mean, hey, you’re putting small balls into holes with sticks, can’t be all that different, right? Tiger Woods might be the greatest golfer on the planet, but you never know about Billiards guy, right? He might be able pull it off? Sure, it’s not exactly the same, but Billiards guy is a champ with a stick on his turf.

Does that sound ridiculous? Does that sound like something you’d bet against?

Why are people excited for this? It’s a mismatch. It has as much value as a sporting contest as a WWE wrestling event. I’m not even close to be an expert on either combat sport, but I can safely say this is going to be a garbage fight.

Don’t pay money for this. Don’t stream this illegally. Don’t watch this, period. The only thing you’re going to miss is the most lopsided fight in the history of boxing.

Sincerely,

The Illustrious Mr. Charlton

p.s. I’m going to call it right now. Mayweather will put McGregor down in the 6th.

p.s.s. People are hyped though, which gives me an idea. Here’s a pitch for a reality show. “Wheels on Ice”. We’ll take young formula 1 drivers, and strap them to skis and send ’em down a giant slalom course. I mean, racing is racing, right?

 

 

Mr. Charlton is an Expert on Moving

I’ve been busy as of late. Busy moving. Getting ready to strap all of my stuff to the outside of a vehicle, and pack as much of it inside as well. Selling stuff on the internet (which is a whole other set of stories) and saving up money for the day we convoy across two provinces. ‘Bout to have a little garage sale, even. There isn’t a whole lot of things I can claim to be good at, but packing up my stuff and taking it to another location is something I’ve become somewhat of a pro at.

I should be a goddamn pro at it by now. This move to Victoria will count as the 32 move in my life.

Go ahead, pick your jaw off the floor. You read that right. I’ve moved a total of 32 times in my life, which chalks up to almost a move a year. That’s 32 times of stuffing boxes full of junk, sorting them out, putting them in a truck, putting those boxes in a new place, and then finally unpacking the boxes and putting all my junk back out into a living space. That’s 32 times of either renting a truck or wrangling friends and family into loading up vehicles and driving across my current landscape until the landscape changes into the new landscape I’ll hopefully be looking at for more than a month.

Moving is a hassle. It’s a goddamn pain in the ass. Nobody in their right mind would move as many times as I have. And it’s not like I’ve been living in exotic locals or anything. I’m not backpacking across Europe or taking a whirlwind tour in South America. All of those moves have been confined to BC and Alberta.

And yet, here I’m doing it again. And it’s going to be the longest move I’ve ever done. 1500 km. All the way from Lethbridge, Alberta to Victoria, BC. Hopefully this will be the last time I have to move in a few years.

There’s definitely a trick to moving, though. There’s a secret method I’ve cooked up, over the years, that’s a sure fire way to make uprooting and putting those roots somewhere else a little bit more tolerable. It’s crazy, it’s a bizarre and insane idea in this world, but gosh, it absolutely works.

I don’t actually own a lot of things.

This “Not owning a lot of things” has slowly been creeping up on me the last couple of years. At first, I thought this was something I was doing, something I had a hand in. I was reading blogs on minimalism, I borrowed “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo from the library. I exchanged my CD collection for an external hard drive. Instead of books, I got an E-Reader.

Until maybe a week or so, I had never actually tallied up the number of times I’ve moved. When I started counting out the moves, I lost count. So I made a spreadsheet, and it turned out I’ve moved over thirty times. Which is incredibly excessive for someone my age.

This got me thinking. Am I actually some sort of minimalist monk who’s rejected this consumer lifestyle we’re being sold every day, a modern Jesuit figure giving the middle finger to everyone who’s ever made a beer commercial, a Tyler Durden born in the flesh? Or am I just a guy who’s had to put his shit into cardboard so often that I just gave up and said “Man, if I don’t actually own this sweet Ab-Blaster 8000, then I won’t have to put it in a U-haul and move it somewhere in six months”.

Looking back, I think I’ve moved so often that I just got sick of owning stuff. When you go to the mall and your first thought is “Am I going to be able to put this in a Chevy Geo?”, you start to take into account how physically large your purchase is. It’s probably not the first thing that comes to mind when most people go shopping, but it’s definitely close the the top of my list.

I move again in two weeks. I’m excited and nervous and all those other crazy emotions that come with moving. Hopefully once I’m settled, I’ll get a little more routine back in my life and I’ll be able to yell on the internet more often. Until then, life is a little crazier when it involves changing locals.

Sincerely,

The Illustrious Mr. Charlton

p.s. The Ab-Blaster 8000 came about when I typed in “Most useless purchase ever” into a search engine. 90% of the comments mentioned exercise equipment.

p.s.s. Exercising is good for you, but you don’t need an Ab-Blaster 8000 to do so. Just some regular sit-ups should suffice.

p.s.s.s. On the other hand, you should at least look up some instructions on how to properly do a sit-up. Most people are sitting up wrong.

 

 

Mr. Charlton Celebrates Two Years

Every once and a while, I’ll end up talking to someone about their new relationship. You start asking questions, and they’ll end up saying something stupid, something along the lines of “We’ve got the same taste in movies” or “They’ve got great taste in music” or even “Our Netflix playlist is almost identical”. I’ll laugh, and I’ll place my hand on their shoulder, and, looking them firmly in the eye, I’ll say these words, and let the words dance in the air before they sashay into their ears.

“You are complete knob if you think that’s how love works. I don’t care if you both like dogs, or salami, or reading thrillers. I guarantee that, if you’re lucky, you’ll be complaining to me about your new fling in less than three months. If you’re not so fortunate, you’ll be complaining to me about them in 5 years, after you’ve gotten married and had a bunch of babies. But if you’re idea of compatibility is based on what kind of cocktail you both drink or some other inane bullshit, you are going to have a really tough go of it.”

Now, I certainly wouldn’t consider myself an expert on love or compatibility (I firmly hold to the theory that attraction works WAY more by smells and pheromones than it does by any other factor), but what I do know is that even though having stuff in common can be a great ice breaker, having opposite interests can make the heart grow fonder.

You see, me and my girlfriend Kat don’t actually have a whole lot in common. We have one or two things in common, but for the most part, our hobbies and interests are wildly different. She loves the outdoors and camping, I love the inner city and the urban jungle. I’m engaged in computers and electronics, she spouts facts about prehistoric animals and dinosaurs. If I could, I would spend most of my time in front of a screen or a book. She’s rather be in a kayak or underwater scuba-diving. I’m a city-slicker, and she’s invested in nature and the outdoors.

Here the thing, though. You don’t grow as a person if you’re constantly in your comfort zone bubble. In order to thrive as a human being, you have to be willing to do things that you wouldn’t normally do. Not only will it make you a more well-rounded person, but it’ll give you a broader scope of the world in general. If you spend all your life in front of a machine in the city, you’ll end up a yuppie idiot. If you spend it outdoors all the time away from the hustle, you’ll have a really hard time being in crowded places and accepting people who aren’t like yourself.

Kat’s incredibly special to me, not because she’s anything like me, but because she’s often the polar opposite. Having someone drag me away from the screen and putting a fishing rod in my hand is a good things, just like when I drag her to a festival where we’re surrounded by thousands of people. I’m not a fan of getting up in a tent, but I can safely say that I like going camping now. Kat still isn’t a fan of crowds, but has a blast when we spend a few hours hiking around a busy city.

I often hear words about compatibility, and I might have something to add to that. Love is about wanting to grow outside of yourself into someone else. It’s about wanting to step outside of your little world circle and into theirs for a bit. It’s not static, but rather it’s dynamic. It changes and grows. And I’m lucky enough to have found someone who wants to change and grow with me.

Two years has flown by. Soon we’re going to be packing up our things and moving to Victoria. It means changes, challenges, and choices, but it’s a new adventure, and it’s one we’re both excited to embark on.

Thanks for being there, Kat. I love you a ton, and here’s to many more years to come.

Sincerely,

The Illustrious Mr. Charlton

p.s. Ok, so it’s been a while since I’ve written anything on the ol’ blog scape here. I’ve been busy.

p.s.s. Busy moving.

p.s.s.s. I did a tally of how many times I’ve moved in my life, and it’s an astounding number. It’s well over twenty five moves.

p.s.s.s.s. As a side note, I’m really excited about fresh seafood on the coast. Can’t wait to grill up some fish steaks!

p.s.s.s.s.s Also, my brother lives there. I guess.

Mr. Charlton Goes for Tacos (Again)

I’ll try anything twice. Even if that means I’ll be eating my own words. A while back, you might have read about me heading to a Calgary taqueria called Native Tongues. And the first time I went, neither myself or Kat was impressed. I have a rule, though. If something is terrible, you always have to go back and see if it’s actually terrible. A place might have an off day. A place might have kids running the show on the weekend.

My friend took me out there, and I explained the situation. Which quickly turned into “You had a bad time? Then let’s go somewhere else”. I shook my head in true Mr.  Charlton fashion. Which meant I was bobbing around like a Muppet under a Jim Henson’s hand.

“Ahhhhwwweee no no no no.  We’re going to Native tongues for a rematch. The last time I went, it was bad. But people keeps telling me it’s good. So I’m going to keep going until it tastes better or that I’m sure everyone else is an idiot”.

My gripe last time was pretty straight forward. Even though they were pretty tasty, they weren’t worth the hefty price of $4 a taco, especially considering these seemed to be a lot smaller than the standard 6″ taco you normally get served. When I mentioned this in my last post, I had a few gourmand friends of mine call me out. “They are worth the $4”, they insisted. I wanted to believe I was right, but maybe living in Lethbridge for a year and a bit had turned me into a cheap skate.

So to my pleasant surprise, they lowered the price. All the way down to $3.50. You might think to yourself “Jeez, man, that’s not really a huge set of savings there”. But that $0.50 meant something. First, it’s a reduction of 12.5%, which is actually quite a bit for a restaurant. Secondly, it also meant the tour of tacos (every single taco on the menu) was going to run me $21 instead of $24. Thirdly, and most importantly, it meant I was right. I was right to call out this taco and its price. I need it to be known that on the subject of tacos, Mr. Charlton knows what he’s talking about.

Native-Tongues

This picture was taken from Yelp. Also, I know what the hell I’m talking about when it comes to Tacos.

The menu changed slightly as well. The last time I went, they had a beef tongue taco. It’s since been removed. I think this is a good call, as beef tongue tacos are pretty bland, to be frank. I thought about going through every single taco, giving it my personal review, but looking back on it, there’s only word going through my mind when I think about these tacos.

“Fresh”

From the handmade corn tortilla, to the salsas, to the queso on both the veggie tacos, everything about this screamed fresh. On a bite sized taco, this makes all the difference in the world.

So what did we learn? That it never hurts to give something a second go. I think that statement can be applied to other people as well. After two tries, then it might be safe to say something is not engaging you on some level. The other important lesson is that quite often I’m right. Especially when it comes to food.

Just saying.

Sincerely,

The Illustrious Mr. Charlton

p.s. I pretty sure the first time I went, they were just having an off day. I remember everything being pretty weak.

p.s.s. That’s not even close to the best meal I had when I was down in Calgary. Next up; 100 day aged steak.

p.s.s.s. It’s not even steak at this point anymore, people.

Mr. Charlton Learns to Deal With Grief (Alternatively, Mr. Charlton Punches Death in the Sack)

If you have just recently tuned into “From the Desk of the Illustrious Mr. Charlton”, you may have made the mistake that somehow I’ve become an obituary writer. Three of my last several posts have been about someone in my family dying. I’m not actually interested in writing about anyone pushing up daisies.

In the last four years, I’ve lost my father, two uncles, my aunt, my cousin, my dog, my grandparents, and a couple of my friends. Not everyone on the list was especially close to me, but everyone was family. Although I can’t always grieve with you, my heart can always go out to you, ’cause I know what it’s like to lose someone you love.

The silver lining is I’m become somewhat an expert on grieving. Ever since my old man died, people have remarked how well I deal with people kicking the bucket, and today I’m going to treat you folks to a handy little guide that will help you navigate the rough seas of loss.

20170608_114919

Why don’t you suck an egg, Death?

  1. You are going to be sad, and that’s perfectly okay. It’s okay to cry. It’s okay to hug people like you’ve never hugged people before. Don’t try and fight the sadness. Let it out of your body, or else it’ll stay there and start to rot you from the inside.
  2. You are going to have people tell you how they think you should feel, and that’s not okay. After my dad died, I had a lot of people asking me if I was angry. When I mentioned I wasn’t, they said “Well, you will be”. Who the hell was I supposed to be mad at? My dad, for dying in an accident? Was I going to be mad at Scuba Diving, which is one of the safest sports in the world? Was I going to pick a fight with the sea where he drowned? Thanks skips. I’m angry now, but I’m angry at you for telling me what I should be going through.
  3. Treat yourself and be nice to yourself. Before Pookie passed away, me and Kat had been on a strict diet. We’re now sorta back on it, but for two weeks we basically ate ice cream and takeout. We took a trip to Calgary and stayed with friends. I ate a lot of tacos. You can get back on the workout regime once you’ve grieved.
  4. Accept that not everyone is going to grieve along side you. In the same way you can’t morn for every dying person on the planet, you can’t expect everyone to join you on the sorrow train. You can only feel so much sadness for someone you don’t know. With that said…
  5. There’s only so much sadness you can experience. Being miserable takes a lot of energy, and your body can only do so much of it. Remember tip number #1? The faster you let the grief flow out of you, the faster you will heal. But…
  6. You’re always going to be a little sad. There’s going to be a little spot in your heart that’s blank now, and there’s not a thing on planet earth that will fill it. That’s part of life.
  7. Death is part of life. The very end of it, to be exact. Everyone is going to pass that gate eventually. And it’s not as bad as people would make it out. Sure, it’s hard to say goodbye to friends and family, but what would happen if people stopped dying? We’d have too many people, and life would be like a crappy club with jerks shoulder to shoulder. People say life is short, but my life will be the longest thing I’ll ever do. Fifty to a hundred years is plenty.

With that all said, there’s only one way to give Death the middle finger. If you lost someone close to you, spite the Grim Reaper by living life. Have a cocktail, learn a new language, go back to school, try stand up comedy, paint a picture, go for a bike ride, jump out a plane, dry age a cut of beef for 100 days and get your friends together to eat it. I’d be damn upset if my funeral is a bunch of mopey wads sitting around crying a bunch.

20170608_114939.jpg

Hey Death? I’m growing LIFE on my patio! How do you like them apples?

With this in mind, and baring decently laws (you might have to hold my funeral in international waters), here’s my plan for my wake. There will be a nice spread of food and spirits. I’m probably going to want a bunch of animals stuffed inside other animals then smoked for a good long time. The main attraction will be a large circus cannon setup in the middle, with a large target set none too far away. I want my limp corpse stuff inside, and then guests can take turns firing my body at the target in exchange for prizes.

With a funeral like that, how could anyone walk away upset?

Sincerely,

The Illustrious Mr. Charlton

p.s. To all my family out there grieving, you have my love.

p.s.s. I keep bringing up this fantastic idea with my mother and my girlfriend, but apparently firing my dead body at a giant target would be traumatizing for some. WHAT ABOUT MY NEEDS?

p.s.s.s. I also tend to be pretty stoic about things. That seems to help.

Mr. Charlton – Dog Owner Part II

May 19th was Pookie’s fourteenth birthday, and even though she’s a dog and the concept of birthdays is probably out her scope, me and Kat decided to celebrate it anyways with a little cake made of her favorite foods; Tuna, peas, and carrot peelings. We put it in a little bowl, got a candle, sang her happy birthday like idiots, and gave her the little dish. Something wasn’t quite right though. She didn’t finish it.

Pookie hadn’t been herself for the last week or so, actually. She was sleeping a lot more. She was having a hard time balancing. And now she wasn’t eating as much as she used to. Me and Kat decided that, after the long weekend, we’d take the doggle in for a checkup.

Unfortunately it was a really long weekend, and Pookie had stopped eating all-together. I took her in Tuesday morning, and the prognosis wasn’t good. The statement from the vet was “We’ll go as far as you’d like to go with this” which is coded words for “we can put her down right now if you don’t want to spend any more money”. I wanted to know what was wrong with her, and I knew Kat would sell everything we own for her little dog, so I signed off on some more tests.

I gave Kat a call, explained the situation, and told her we’d know by noon. So I picked her up from work and we drove to the vet in silence. On arrival, the vet sat us down and gave us the bad news.

Pookie had late stage kidney disease. Some of the tests they ran were so bad they were off the charts. She didn’t have a lot of time. They gave her some IV fluid to keep her going for a bit, but when we got home it hit us that we’d have to put down our little furball.

I’ve never owned a dog before. I wasn’t a dog person. When someone lost a dog, my only reaction was “Well, it was just a dog.” But after living with a dog for two years, after having her greet me everyday when I got home, getting pictures from Kat of Pookie waiting for me by the door, her running up to the kitchen every time I was peeling carrots in the hopes she’d get some, well, you get pretty attached to the little fluffer. I fell in love with that dog, and now I had to say goodbye.

It’s a strange pact you make with an animal. Unless you’re getting a turtle or a parrot, you’re going to outlive. The story when getting an animal almost always ends the same way; with grief. A dog only has a decade, maybe a decade and a half of life. You’ll watch it turn from an excited, wiggly puppy to an old dog that’s struggling to walk.

It hit me a lot harder than I thought it would. After Pookie passed I’ve been pretty miserable to be around. I’ve basically sat around like a goon, playing video games, and stuffing my face with ice cream. Both Kat and I have been doing everything in order to avoid hearing the sound of silence that’s now permeating our apartment. Every once and a while you find something that reminds you of Pookie and your eyes get all misty and you have to get yourself another bowl of ice cream.

20160306_212514

Look at this dog’s stupid little face!

But even though the doggle is gone, her dumb little spirit remains. We managed to get some of her paw prints cast before she left us, and we’re getting her paw prints tattooed next week. We’re already talking about what kind of dogs we’re going to get when we finally settle down. Even though her loss hurt me, I’m willing to try this dog experiment again.

I’ve now officially had a dog, and it’s come with the pain of losing a dog. Five years ago I would have never imagined, but Mr. Charlton is a dog person, and will own day be a dog owner again.

Sincerely,

The Illustrious Mr. Charlton

p.s. Tomorrow, we’re going to talk about dealing with grief. ‘Cause I am now an expert on it.

Only the Good Die Young

My cousin, Richard Pruden, passed away in his sleep peacefully on May 18th, 2017. The people who knew Richard had this to say about the news.

“Richard Pruden? Died peacefully in his sleep? You must be mistaken. What you meant to say is Richard died trying to pull a double back flip on a dirt bike, while being set on fire, after a few tall ones. I’m certain his last words were ‘hold my beer’. That sounds more like Richard.”

Richard-and-Kori

About to go for a rip with his son Kori

Richard was a loud, boisterous, friendly, life of the party kind of guy. He wasn’t shy, wishy washy, or indirect. The few times I’ve met him he was usually handing me a beer, smiling a ridiculously large ear to ear grin, and telling me to lighten up. And even a sourpuss like me would have no choice but to lighten and smile right back. Richard oozed this positive energy that was infectious. It was impossible to have a bad time when he was around.

He’s the only person on Facebook who seemed to use it completely earnestly. He didn’t badger everyone with his political views, he wasn’t sharing memes, he wasn’t posting selfies; he was sharing what was going on in his life, and it was always hilarious. Camp stories, where he’s having to deal with neighbors who are masturbating too loudly, to tales of him and his children Kori and Kiyah (aka Chopper) fixing his bikes and getting into hijinks.

Richard-and-Chopper

Richard and Kiyah (aka Chopper)

Unfortunately for me, the only reason I knew Richard at all is because of Facebook. Besides that, I could probably count the number of times I actually hung out with the man on my hands. Yet he was so generous and open about his life that even though we only saw each other at weddings, I still felt I got to know him a little bit. And that’s a whole lot better than not knowing him at all.

When I found out the news, I didn’t really know how to react. The only thing I could do at the time was try to live like Richard did, and I did so by eating four burritos in one sitting. Still didn’t feel right. So after two and a half weeks of sitting on it, I finally got the nerve to right about a guy I hardly knew, but will still greatly miss.

The only consolation I can provide is that maybe, just maybe, you only get so much actual ‘life’ on this crazy ride, and when you live as passionately and earnestly as Richard did, you’ll end up using it all up. It’s not fair and it still hurts, but that’s the only explanation I can come up with from losing someone as great as Richard Pruden.

He was only 41 years old, and he’s survived by wife (Joann), son (Kori), daughter (Kiyah), father (Richard Sr), mother (Linda) and step father (Rene). Richard also has two paternal half brothers (Mark and Mike), and a maternal half brother and sister (Derek and Ashley). My heart goes out to each and every one of them.

Sincerely,

The Illustrious Mr. Charlton

p.s. If you can use up life by having a good time, then I’m going to live forever.

p.s.s. Heaven is probably going to have to tap a few more kegs.

Mr. Charlton – Yoga Master

Besides the fact that I tend to walk everywhere, it’s been a long, long time since I’ve actually done any exercise. Every once and a while I’ll get the inkling to do some pull ups or some crunches, but it’s been, shucks, it’s been over a decade since I actually had a workout routine. I’m what a lot of fitness buffs would call ‘skinny fat’, but these days it’s leaning a little more to the fat side than the skinny.

So, with Kat’s help, I’ve been slimming down with a better diet. Thankfully, my speedy metabolism is still firing and kicking, so the pounds are already starting to shed. I’ve parked the car, and once again, I’m walking around and getting some air. There’s one thing that’s been missing; stretching.

Most of my free time is spent sitting in front of a computer screen. It’s where I like to work, and it’s where I like to play. I sit, on average, for about 90% of the time I’m not moving from one area or working. This has wreaked havoc on my hips. My weasel-like ability to bend and flex has all but disappeared. My cat-like reflexes are now only apparent in online death-matches.

Me and Kat have been looking for an activity we could both do. The only issue is our schedules. My schedule isn’t evening friendly, and there’s little chance I can commit to a program later in the night. If we’re going to do an activity together, then it has to be something we can do at home.

Enter yoga. Good for the body, good for the brain, and good for the soul if you have one. Kat’s done yoga in the past, and was super excited that I was on board to sit on a mat and do a bunch of stretching. Last weekend, we went to the store and I picked up a yoga mat. With a rubbery piece of foam, some shorts, and my willingness to do anything twice, I started doing yoga a few days ago.

Yoga is totally kicking my ass, by the way.

Right off the bat, the shorts I picked aren’t really sports wear. I figured, ‘Hey, shorts. I can work out in these’. I was wrong. The first lesson taught me that doing the kind of stretching I was doing was something I haven’t prepared for. Like, I don’t own any active wear. I thought shorts were active wear, and I was wrong.

Now, rather than put off yoga until I got some proper attire, I decide to step up to the mat and dress down a little. Needless to say, I’ve been doing yoga in my underwear. So here I am, almost halfway through thirty, sitting on a yoga mat, bending in way I haven’t bent since I was about eight, in my skivvies. Oh, and I’m working up a sweat, too.

I just want that mental image implanted in your brain. A slightly pudgy, grunting, perspiring, greasy Mr. Charlton rolling around on a cheap mat I got from some conglomerate chain store. Hopefully you are now paying attention.

But here’s the thing. Even though I’ve only sat through two 30 minutes sessions so far, I’m already starting to feel a little better. My arms and legs are a little bendier. Sitting at the computer here mashing at the keyboard doesn’t feel so rough on my hips. I’m a little more focused. And tonight, before I go to bed, I plan on hitting the mat once again.

Yoga gets Mr. Charlton’s seal of approval. If you are a desk jockey like me, if you spend your days as a keyboard warrior, typing your typpie types into the type pad, then I fully recommend yoga. In fact, if I were a large firm, I’d make 20 minutes of yoga almost mandatory.

It might seem a little presumptuous to make bold claims like this after only two sessions, but I’m the kind of guy who make bold claims all the time. And honestly, after being an arm chair cowboy for over a decade, having a big old stretch in the morning is a great way to start the day.

Sincerely,

The Illustrious Mr. Charlton

p.s. Alright, so I’m baiting people with the headline “Yoga Master”. Sue me.

p.s..s. Seriously, it’s a pretty good workout. You find yourself doing a lot of planking. Good for the core!

p.s.s.s. I’m digging doing yoga in the raw, by the way. Sure, I could go buy some stretchy pants, but doing it in the ol’ underoos makes me feel like a tough hombre.

Mr. Charlton Hates Driving

It’s not unusual for a young man to be interested in cars and trucks. Even in the 21st century, boys are still the primary market for hot wheels and Tonka trucks. These boys grow up into men (at least physically) and targeted still with slogans about owning a vehicle. Freedom! Speed! Sex! These things come with a car. So again, it ain’t unusual for guys to be interested in cars, trucks, motorcycles, and that sort of thing. It’s kinda weird if they didn’t.

Mr. Charlton is most certainly a strange duck.

I’ve never been into cars. I only owned a vehicle from the ages of 17 to 19, then promptly got rid of the thing. Part of the reason was the fact that I enjoy walking. Strolling around kept my body lean and fit. Part of the reason was the car is the only place I got angry. Not being in a car was saving my hair from going grey. The biggest reason was I just moved to the city.

I’m a city boy. I was raised in a small town, but at heart, was someone who loved the urban jungle. I loved the density, the towers, the different foods, the people. And the closer you are to the heart of the city, the less it makes sense to own a vehicle. A car’s usefulness decreases drastically as the towers above you rise. What was originally a means of freedom is now a burden. Parking is expensive. The Stop-Go of city driving is hard on a vehicle. You no longer have to get a week’s worth of groceries and stockpile your pantry, you can just stop at the market on the way home. The only reason you would have a vehicle is because you lived in the suburbs, and I’d rather pull teeth than live in the damn suburbs.

Long story short, there hasn’t been a whole lot of times I missed having a car. But that’s when I was living in the city. And right now, Mr. Charlton isn’t living in the city.

Now, if you’re in a small town, you don’t really need a vehicle either. There’s really only one municipality that requires a car. If you live in a large town / small city, then it’s going to be a hassle to get around.

Enter Lethbridge. That’s where I’m living right now. It’s not a bad little city, but it’s a little city. The bus only runs until 6:00pm on Sunday. The town is split in two; The city on the east side of the valley, the university and a bunch of burbs on the west side. And I happen to be lodging on the west side. Getting around is tougher.

If I were single, I’d suck it up and walk or take the bus. Kat has a vehicle though, and she’d (her own words) would rather have me borrow the car and be home sooner. I’ve been driving a lot more than I normally do.

This is bad news, ’cause it’s making me fat.

So I made the plan in my head to use the vehicle a lot less. I had to whip over to Kamloops  a few weekends ago, and Kat was gracious enough to let me borrow Skylar (the name of the car). This ain’t my car, so I needed to take really, really good care of it. But after this, I was done. After this last 1600 kilometer journey, I was parking Skylar and getting my walk on.

It was almost halfway through April, so spring is well on it’s way. Unless, of course, you’re living in Canada. Then we’re getting the last spitting of winter. For the first leg of my journey, I encountered sleet, snow and wind. Nothing I couldn’t handle though.

There was a lot of wind, more than usual. This is important, because halfway to Kamloops, right outside of my hometown of Golden BC, there’s a particularly treacherous span of road. For about 10 kilometers, there’s only a two lane highway, and it twists through a rocky canyon. I’ve driven through here hundreds of times before. Never much paid attention to the signs in the area, mostly the ones saying “Watch for falling rock”. And for the first time in my life, I saw what these signs were warning travelers about. In front of me, the road was getting pounded by rocks the size of baseballs.

These rocks weren’t rolling down a hill, they were falling from heights. Suddenly I had flashbacks of stories about people getting hit by rocks in the canyon. People who’s windshield got destroyed. Some folks even died. This is all passing through my brain, and I now have a decision to make; Do I stop, and risk getting rear ended? Or do I speed up, and go for broke, hoping that with an increased velocity, I avoid getting hit altogether?

Bravely, I did neither.

“DONK!”

That’s the noise the rock made when it hit the side of Skylar. The noise I made was ten minutes of swearing. And I mean, straight up cussing. Some of the best cussing I’ve ever done was right after this tragedy. Then there was sadness, as  the reality sunk in that when I arrived to my destination, I’d have to call Kat and let her know Skylar got hit by a rock from the sky.

Finally, when I showed up to Golden, I was able to assess the damage. Thankfully, there was a slight bit of dirt, but there was no dent. Not even a scratch, really. The rock was all bark, no bite.

Still, with everything said and done, if I had to do it again, I’d hop on the bus or catch a flight. Instead of 18 hours of driving this weekend, I would have simply had 30 hours of reading.

Sincerely,

The Illustrious Mr. Charlton

p.s. The joke is that a bus ride is usually way longer than taking your own vehicle.

p.s.s. I’d still rather take the bus.

p.s.s.s. Kat was totally cool, just FYI. She was far more worried about me than her car.