Family Day

Where I live we have a province-wide statutory holiday called Family Day. Today. It always falls on the third Monday of February, and for as long as I’ve been working it has been a random day off in the middle of winter with a clear theme, but no clear method of celebration.

You don’t exchange cards or gifts.

It’s not something that we decorate for.

There are no fireworks, and you generally go to bed at a reasonable time because you’ve got to get up and go to work the next day.

And in the middle of February it is almost always too cold to do much outdoors beside bundle up and listen to everyone gripe about frozen toes and ears!

I’ve been pretty clear on the theme of this blog: cast iron cooking and outdoor adventure.

What I haven’t written much about (though I’ve alluded to frequently) is my family.

My wife of nearly eighteen years.

My teenage daughter.

My new puppy.

Relatives all across the country, and around the world.

And many good friends that have earned honourary aunt and uncle status with the kid.

And I’ve written about all of it for a long time. In fact, over the years I’ve created a few different websites, and if you had asked me a dozen years ago I’d have said that the biggest theme of most of my writing was fatherhood and how it intersects with all the other things in my life.

For example…

The first of the two notable websites was a “dad rules” blog, where I would come up with tongue-in-cheek rules for being a dad based on things the kid was doing, write about the silly antics babies and toddlers got up to, and tie it altogether into a cohesive article.

The second fatherhood website that got a lot of traction was my “This is Pi Day!” web comic. The name came from the idea that pi day, March 14th, was essentially just a celebration of both math and dad jokes. The whole day was just one big dad joke. My comic was mostly the kid character reacting to the dad joke sense of humour of the dad character. The site is still live, but if it happens not to be working when you click on it, note that I host it on a homebrew server in my basement that crashes occasionally.

While those two blogs were focused on family stories and how they interected with the things I was interested in, if you’ve read enough of this blog you’ll probablly note that it is spun around the other way: focused on the things I’m intersted and how it intersects with my family.

I cook and bake and set an example of sustainable, healthy eating while teaching these things to my daughter.

I run, camp, hike, and spend time outdoors, doing much of it with my family and to set an example to a kid who loves her screentime.

And I try to instill a sense of legacy and purpose into my work, the hobbies I do and tools I use to build up something to someday pass down to my now and future family.

These are the things I’m interested and how they intersect with family.

So, on this family day, a diversion from that regular focus to spin it back around for a moment: that’s my family and how it drives almost everything I do. No cards or gifts or decorations, just a quiet celebration at home today.

Comic: Kicking off Gaige and Crick

I alluded in a previous post that I was fumbling through the idea of starting another web comic as a kind of spiritual sequel to the comic I stopped drawing about two years ago now.

I think it would make a great addition to a daily blog like this and allow me to supplement the wordy nature of daily blogging with something unique and more visual.

It’s not much to look at yet, but it blossomed out of an idea to take an art style I’m comfortable with and a legacy of drawing comics about parenting and then extrapolating it into a story about a guy and his dog and their adventures through the backcountry.

I fussed through some concept work over the last couple days and did some loose sketching on my iPad:

I roughed that out in my go-to vector editing program, Inkscape, first playing around with a character design and getting the models where I liked them. What resulted was some basic art and recycling of the some of the assets from my former comic to rough out the scene:

I did another hour or so of work to build some updated custom scenery, specifically looking at how I can do “nature” better if that’s going to be the primary setting for a future strip. I sketched some trees, I cleaned up my backgrounds and worked on some shadowing.

I’m also keeping to my custom cartooning font that I created and tweaked for use in that aforementioned web comic project.

The final result was a masthead that I’m reasonably happy sharing as a kick-off to this sub-project:

Where this goes next is probably going to take me a few weeks or more to get rolling properly. Stories & jokes. Some settings. More art assets. And a schedule for designing and publishing these on this blog.

Stay tuned.

The Adventures of Gaige and Crick has taken it’s first step out the front door.

Comics: Camping with Kids

When my daughter was younger I wrote, illustrated and shared an online web comic about fatherhood. It documented some of the quirky things we did and used some of the funny things she said as the heartbeat of the humour.

Whatever humour I managed to inject into these little stories usually came from a blend of “kids say funny stuff” mashed against those parental expecations falling short. I usually salted in a generous helping of dad jokes, to flavour.

I dabbled in a lot of formats (single panel, four-panel full colour, black and white, and other various dimensions) and a diverse range of topics. One of my very early black and white three-panel series was brought to life from a camping trip we had then recently taken.

So, for example the first strip blossomed from my frustration at being the one who always needed to spend half my first afternoon setting up camp (tho let’s be honest… I love that part too!) while the Kid ran off to play with her friends. When she was that age, setting up to her was about getting her treats out of the car, never mind eventually needing a place to sleep. I guess that’s what dads are for.

A second memory was locked in as she remarked at all the effort it took to cook while we roughed it in our campsite. To be fair, when I was a teenager camping out alone with my friends we scarfed bags of chips and ate hot dogs for three meals a day. You’d think I would have learned something in scouts for twelve years and made us all a nice bit of tuck. There’s something to be said about simplicity, I guess, and when you’re young who actually has time for meal prep, anyways… not to mention the cleanup?

The final strip reflected this odd mix of hesitancy and urgency of the Kid exerting her own independence. She always wanted to do everything herself but with dad standing by as a safety net. Out camping is a good place to dabble in this because away from the routine of home there are lots of new experiences to be had, particularly around things as simple as sticking your food into a fire. Obviously, accepting the consequences for your independence is a whole other lesson and dads tend to eat a lot of burnt marshmallows.

Side Note: I’m thinking of digging some of these characters out of retirement and putting together some new strips for this blog. There won’t be any regularity to those posts, but let me know if you’re interested in that. Encouragement and interest are like kindling for creative fire you know.

These original comics and a couple hundred more are still (mostly) online at www.piday.ca.

Comics: Backpacking with Kids

When my daughter was younger I wrote, illustrated and shared an online web comic about fatherhood. It documented some of the quirky things we did and used some of the funny things she said as the heartbeat of the jokes.

The comics are mostly still (mostly) online at www.piday.ca but to save readers from trotting over there to hunt through the relevant ones, here is a short triple-strip series I made shortly after one of our backpacking trips.

Of course there is a much longer story behind this brief comic trilogy.

It involves a kid who was a little worried about being eaten by a bear on top of a mountain and parents who (were just following the rules and) added to that fear by locking our food in a hard, steel bear locker while we slept a hundred meters away in a soft-fabric tent.

As it turned out, on one of our short day hikes we chanced upon not just the ranger station but the ranger himself who (being a great example of being an above & beyond public servant) gave us a tour of the ranger shack, told the kid about how they tracked bear movement for safety, and handed her a BC Parks pin for her jacket.

And she left pretty certain that if the ranger would be out there watching her back for bears, though informed me that if the ranger fell through that Dad would be on the hook to wrestle the bear.

Thankfully, it was a bear-free trip and my honour was spared for another day.