Simple Breakfasts

In this day and age people love to share photos of their meals. I am not ashamed to say, but I have also done this (and still do on occasion). Even though restaurants or homemade meals can look and taste amazing, sometimes it’s the simple foods that can also spark joy.

Today I was looking forward to having a bowl of yogurt with granola and fresh blueberries. This meal brings back a various flood of memories for me. The first time I had granola for breakfast I was about fifteen. I had gone with a friend and his family up to the Okanagan to pick apples for a week. I fell in love with this sweet, yet healthy snack. Later in life- my wife and I spent our two day honeymoon at a bed and breakfast in Harrison Hot Springs. That was where I had yogurt, granola and fresh fruit served to me. It seemed elegant and heartwarming at the same time. A true B+B experience.

Yesterday I had buttered toast with marmalade. Again, simple and tasty. This is a meal I have maybe once every couple of years. That’s because I don’t find it overly filling. So if I want a light breakfast- toast is it. To me, orange marmalade is a special treat for on top. I first had marmalade when I was four years old. It was on my first trip to Scotland. I thought it was a big deal to eat this in a foreign country.

At my grandparents house in Scotland, they had 3 channels on the television back in 1980. Paddington Bear (the 1976 BBC series) was on every morning. He ate marmalade. My mother made it a big deal that she could get me some marmalade if I wanted too. To be four years old and eating the food that a funny little bear was eating during his daily adventures- was like a dream come true. I’ll always associate marmalade with that bear and those memories of my youth.

Simple foods can bring forth a flurry of beautiful memories. Do you associate breakfast food with a fond memory?

Sky Time

Every so often I am just in awe of the sky. Last year I shared a bunch of photos I had taken over the years- Read about it here: What Were The Skies Like.

Today I came home after a night shift and was again filled with wonderment of the sky. I’m also enraptured to have such a beautiful view available to enjoy; and share. The pleasure I get staring off is immeasurable. The view from our front balcony and the back balcony make for an almost 360° sight line of the sky.

On a day like today, I’ll just stand around soaking in the world. My concerns are gone for a brief moment until I get distracted by family members. But these little moments are the zen required to fulfill me and create inner peace.

How does the sky make you feel?

Hazy Sunrise

One of the things that I do miss about our old home in the countryside is viewing the sunrise through the trees. Especially an Autumn Morning Sunrise. After a night shift it was always nice to see the sun crawl through the mist as I drove home.

It wouldn’t have mattered much if we lived in our old place this morning. The sunrise is being hampered by the smoke in the air from the forest fires. Every so often the sun was giving off an orange glow- creating more beauty than should really be allowed.

Yes folks, I do believe global warming is real. This summer is only just the start of what we can expect on a regular basis over the next few years. I’m trying really hard to enjoy the sunrise through the smoke filled sky, but it nags at me the cause of the smoke.

We can do better as a species. And we really should try more often. On the weekend some friends and I were having a discussion about recycling and trash pick up. Individually, most people are doing their parts. But the waste collection companies still toss the majority of everything into one pile. This saddens me.

How do you feel about global warming or recycling? Are we doing our part? Is it wrong to enjoy the colours of a hazy sunrise?

Dino Mountain

There are plenty of paths in our neighborhood. Some lead around the houses, other paths lead through trees and parks. One of the paths has been filled with toys and art. It is titled “Dino Mountain” and was created in 2017.

There are little plastic dinosaurs near a large rock. My daughter will often straighten the ones that have toppled over and sometimes set up little scenes. I think it’s a fantastic way to encourage children to go on walks. It’s neat that the City of Surrey has also left it for the neighborhood to enjoy.

Today, we added our own touch to the Mountain.

Back in 1994 I was given some promotional material from a video store for the release of Jurassic Park. I have put them on display in all of our houses. Because I love the film so much, it was time to give back to the world and share some fun. I took the cardboard signage and taped it up in hopes that it survives the elements. Off to the trail we went and put them up for others to enjoy.

So if you’re in my neighborhood and go for a walk passing Dino Mountain- make sure you keep an eye out for Dinosaurs Crossings the path.

Celebrity Fun

Over the years I have met numerous celebrities. That is mainly due to me being a Convention Carny. I’ve even had quite a few interactions with celebrities online as well. Most recently was my all time favorite- Elvira.

I had the luxury of meeting Cassandra Peterson in person in Vancouver followed by a few weeks later in Los Angeles. She was so nice to my daughter and I. I learned that her sense of humor is raunchy and fun, so a random comment on Instagram made me happy that she responded. Oh yeah, 13 year old me still has the hots for her.

The fact that Pee-Wee Herman and Elvira are close friends makes me happy as well. A few years ago, Mr. Herman liked a comment of mine on Facebook. I’ve dressed as PW for Halloween and acted the part as well.

But my favorite set of celebrity friends is Felicia Day and Wil Wheaton. I’ve had the opportunity to met them both a couple times at various conventions and even played a board game with Felicia Day.

Celebrities are like regular people running a business. The interactions they have with the public is akin to promoting a product. That product being their status in the media world. It’s fun and neat when they communicate indirectly with you. A moment of connection occurs.

Have you had any good interactions with celebrities? Or even any bad ones? Let me know in the comments. I’m off to continue being an influencer now… to my family.

Road to Repair

I woke up early today to the sound of construction just outside our home. At first I thought it was the garbage collection, only it kept going.

I took to our front deck to watch the action for a bit. I was impressed at how quickly the City of Surrey took action in repairing the road. It was about a week ago that it was reported and inspected. Unlike our last neighborhood where portions of the road are collapsing for years now and no plan for repairs. Just some orange spray paint was added.

The work being done in our current neighborhood is clean and quick. I am thoroughly impressed with the road work by Surrey. I really do feel like we have a good suburb that we moved in to.

Even if my day of sleeping in was disturbed.

Juliette Deck

After a quick dip in the pool, I went upstairs to get changed. From our bedroom on the third floor we have a small balcony. Some call it a “Juliette Deck” in reference from Romeo and Juliette. Of all of our decks (four of them in total) I spend the second least amount of time on it. The one above our front door I actually spend less time on.

But tonight I decided to sit in the sun on the Juliette Deck. As I sat there, numerous hummingbirds came to visit. I even caught the shadow of one as I took a selfie.

The visiting hummingbirds arrived because off to the side of the deck, we hung up a hummingbird feeder. At first it wasn’t getting much attention. But tonight was a flurry of activity. The warm weather is causing these birds to seek refreshments. I’m glad we have a spot so close by to enjoy their buzzing little wings.

It was a peaceful way to end a long day of errands. I think I shall call the bird that kept coming back… Romeo.

Patience Young Grasshopper

For the first time in over three decades, I caught a grasshopper. Super exciting, I know. But this summer is also the first time in about thirty years since I’ve even seen a grasshopper. I hadn’t realized that fact until I saw one.

It’s just an insect. No big deal to most folks. I found it fascinating as a flood of memories came swarming into my head. My wife and I were walking along a berm that ran behind our home the other day when my first encounter occurred. A similar type of place from my youth where we would hunt grasshoppers and frogs.

I remember spending hours in the fields and mud trying to capture these hopping critters. Taking your time to sneak up on one only to miss nine times out of ten. But that final catch always made you proud. My friends and I would take the grasshoppers or frogs home in an ice cream bucket with holes punched in- just to show the other kids in the neighborhood. This made you the highlight of a hot summer day.

So here is my ice cream bucket. A quick photo of the grasshopper I caught. I hope that for a brief moment it brings you joy like it did me.

I Need Some Of That

Earlier this year Weezer released a new song, I Need Some Of That. I immediately connected with the lyrics. The same way I can associate life with the Barenaked Ladies song, Pinch Me. Both songs are well written songs about youth and living in the suburbs.

Only recently have we re-entered the suburban lifestyle. I hadn’t realized how much I needed it. Seeing children playing, folks washing cars, dog walkers, joggers, sprinklers on the lawn; all of it is a sense of serenity and life. A life I had as a child and teenager that somehow I forgot about or didn’t acknowledge at the time.

I now enjoy being around neighbors who stop and say “Hello”. Not that our old neighborhood wasn’t like that. It just took walking for a couple of acres to possibly see someone. In our old neighborhood- everyone knew everyone for decades. This neighborhood? Perfect strangers greet each other with a smile and a kind word.

It’s just what I needed. A lifestyle consisting of strangers just being nice. A wave or a nod sharing a moment. Living in the suburbs has a zen like feeling you cannot find anywhere else. A sense of security and safety. I’m totally drinking the cherry koolaid on this one folks.

As Far As Friends Go…

After last Wednesday’s funeral, I had mentioned how I was going to get back into Facebook and search out friends once more. Some people have found me and added me. But generally speaking- it has been me reaching out again. It was as my choice over two years ago to leave Facebook Friends behind after all.

In the short time since starting my friend gathering, I have accumulated 124 Facebook Friends. When I left back in March 2019 I was at almost 400. It feels like I hit reset on a game and my saved progress is gone.

Time to go in like Ash Ketchum on his adventures to get Pokémon! I’m 14% of the way there. Considering there are 898 total currently out there. I can hit that number of Pokémon friends quick enough.

So as I try and gather up my friend numbers, I’m going to use my power-up: kindness. It’s super effective. Gotta catch’em all!

I want to be the very best!

Dog Dream

Last night I was dreaming about our dog Lex. I dreamt that he was back with us as his younger self. As the dream went on, I unfortunately began to awaken. As that occurred, I did my best to hold onto my dream. But I could not.

From the deep sleep I awoke in a slow and sad pace continuously trying to force myself back into my dream. Instead I woke up crying.

This has never happened to me before. My subconscious caused extreme emotions to overcome me. After a few tears fell on my pillow I returned to sleep only to not reenter that dream.

Just like the loss of our family dog, my dream was also gone. But the memories remain, almost hauntingly so.

Littles

Today was a good day. I had the opportunity to have a few coworkers over with their families. Each of them have young children to take care of.

It’s been a long while since my wife and I have had to deal with small kids. It was nice change to hang out with everyone. And see how they handle their kids.

I’ve always been good with children. They seem to gravitate towards me. Today made for another one of those moments. My favorite part was being able to hand back the kids at the end of the days. The kids were well behaved. I’m most impressed with my friends’ parenting skills.

Overheated

For the first time ever, I overheated my iPhone. It kind of surprised me that I did it. But hey, first time for everything. At least it’s back up and working so that I can write today’s blog.

Which has now turned into writing about overheating. Originally I was going to write about waiting around. That’s because our daughter is in surgery having her wisdom teeth removed. I was asked to wait in my car and be on standby just in case.

The reason my phone overheated is because I decided to eat my lunch and left the phone on the car seat next to me connected to my charger. Maybe ten minutes in the sun. When I picked it up, that was the warning that came through. A couple of minutes in the shade and everything was fine. My phone was lucky enough to find the one patch of sun- since I parked in the shade.

I remember stories from yore where people forgot videotapes in hot cars and melted them. Back in the day, a friend who worked at a video store showed me some creatively damaged tapes. I suppose I should be more careful with my electronics. Note to self- don’t be a dumbass.

Have you ever left something in a hot car, only to realize too late?

Garage Success

About a month ago I mentioned about Making Space In The Garage. We have been able to park my wife’s car on her side since then. We also rearranged some of the storage last week to make it more accessible and easier to manage. This afternoon- we tackled my side. And won!

With a few things still needing better placement, I’m happy with the progress. We have some donations to send out and some recycling to toss that will help with the space. But all in all, I now have a spot to park my car.

We now have two cars parked in a two car garage! This makes me tremendously happy. Much to their chagrin- I had to have to kids out there to enjoy my moment of triumph! This was a total “Dad Flex” to unbury the garage and park our cars.

Go Joe! Next is to organize the shed…

Andrew Porter

An old friend of mine from the late 90’s passed away recently. Today was his funeral service. His name was Andrew Porter.

“Porter” by definition comes from the Latin portatorem: one who carries. Andrew Porter carried many of us through a strange and unusual time in our lives.

After the service, a dozen of us went for lunch and shared stories of our youth. There were catch phrases- little inside jokes only we understood. Here were the craziest ones:

Cheeseburger

She bit my dick!

Break out the saki! Andy got laid!

Andy’s smoking “American” cigarettes.

I’m a lover, not a fighter!

Scabbies (there are a ton of songs on this subject)

Our lives back then made me realize how lucky I am to have endured those days. We were stupid teenagers doing stupid shit thinking we would live forever. Andy was my next door neighbor for a few years at the end of high school- that’s how we became friends.

We were the delinquent houses where groups of us would get drunk and high. From those insane catchphrases and memories, I’m glad I lived the life I did with Andy close by sharing in the journey.

As the years went on, eventually I lost touch with him. Seeing him fourteen years ago was the last time. I could view his life on Facebook, but in March of 2019 I chose to erase my Facebook friends. Today I realized that I still need Facebook friends. I need to follow them so that I know that they are okay.

Because one day they will be gone. Just like Andy.

In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida Andy. You will be missed, but the memories lasted a lifetime.

Billionaire Space Race

It may seem odd that space travel is finally reaching a level beyond scientific research. It’s beginning to blur the line between science fiction and reality these days. And the billionaires on earth are racing to get there.

Over the past few days, billionaires are exiting the earth’s atmosphere and spending time in space. Granted it’s not a lot of time in orbit, but they are reaching far beyond my limitations at this moment. And I’m excited for them.

They are paving the way for all of us to enjoy a potential freedom in future travel. I’m hoping within the next two decades that it becomes affordable for some of us- I’d excitedly jump on board.

Maybe you don’t feel the same way I do. But hear me out. It all has to start with someone investing money and resources into paving the way. Even if they make the money from the rest of us- I hope to create my own memories and enjoy the trip.

Think about where we are now and what we have that is all commonplace. Flying, Cars, televisions, computers, smartphones- the first ones went to the wealthy and eventually made their way to the general public.

One day- space travel will be within everyone’s grasp. “Straight to the moon Alice!” won’t be a phrase from 1955’s humor on domestic violence anymore. But rather something you can say to a loved one- and actually being going to the moon.

Peaceful Easy Feeling

Back to work after vacation doesn’t mean that enjoying summer is over. I’ve been coming home the last couple of evenings feeling grateful for what I have.

Having a positive outlook on life is important to having positive things happen for you. Luck is also a huge role in everything that happens. We are lucky to live in this part of the world. Clean water, good education, and plenty of opportunities for success.

Finding success can create happiness. At some point though you really need to step back and admire what you have accomplished.

Vibing with a peaceful easy feeling is what my summer is all about. Come on in. The water’s fine.

Fog and Sun

I still can’t get over the fact that we have a view to enjoy from our new home. Usually I’m sharing photos of the backyard and stories of sunshine. Yesterday was the last day of my staycation. This morning I had to head into work in order to pay for this lifestyle.

Before leaving my oasis, I enjoyed a cup of coffee as I looked at the fog leading off into the horizon. The sun wasn’t out yet, so the colours of the world were subdued and cool. If there wasn’t the occasional tree and a hill in the far distance, I would’ve thought we were in the clouds.

Everyday I become more appreciative of what we have. It has been a long road leading to this. This home is now my sanctuary. Or if you wish- My Happy Place.

Searing Steaks

I’ve been a self proclaimed and avid grill master when it comes to using a gas grill. Over the years I have gone through about half a dozen BBQs. Each had a side burner. One or two had a rotisserie burner. But my latest one that my family gave me for Christmas had something I’ve never used before.

There is a side burner. Only it is for searing meat. After seven months, I finally decided to try it out. My wife picked up some red meat (which is rare for us- pun intended). I decided to try the searing option on the grill.

First off, I love that this BBQ has cast iron grills. Secondly, searing the steaks turned out perfect! We all love a rare steak. With a normal grill- I had a tough time getting it right. Searing burner took the guess work out. Get some grill marks within a couple of minutes per side and the steaks were perfect.

Letting the steak rest with some garlic butter made for a perfect meal. We had some deep fried white potatoes and sautéed spinach with mushrooms as the sides. I can never go back to not having a searing grill option again. Best steak I have ever made.

Lights, Now Cameras!

Since we moved in, we have been slowing making this house our home. I threw in a couple of ceiling fans for the kids. We added lights to the outdoors- along the railing and what we call our “Tokyo DisneySea Light” as well as a few others. Plus a tv and some outdoor furnishings.

It’s time to make us feel secure in all of those purchases. The weather cooled off enough today for my son and I to hit the attic and run some wires. It was CCTV camera install day. There are plenty of YouTube videos and how-to sites that I’m not going into those details.

My wife and I had bought six Lorex cameras and a hard drive a few months ago from Costco. I always wanted to have security cameras in our last house, but the undertaking would have been tremendous with all the brick work. So my wife indulged me and I got a set for this house.

First off, the install started off long and arduous. Having to find the best spots and figure out how to run the cables. After that- it was a bit of tinkering and we now have four of the six cameras up and recording. My wife was having fun with me while I set them up.

We opted to put the monitor in our laundry room. My wife didn’t want the screen to be front and center in our lives. I agree with her on that. The neat part is the hard drive connects to our internet and we can access the cameras remotely from our phones.

The hard drive allows us to have up to 8 cameras and we can also get the kind that you can move, zoom, pan and tilt with. That might happen in the future. Anyways, before next summer, I will finish adding the last two cameras to completely view our property.

I know the cameras may only be a bit of a deterrent for crime. Most criminals don’t care about cameras or security systems. If they want in your home, they will get in. I just like the sense of security the camera system offers my family.

Plus now I can decide if I want to open the front door or ignore people.

Ha! 19 Now…

Our oldest child turned 19 today. That means she is legal drinking age and can have alcohol without trying to sneak it. On my 19th birthday I went to the club and got completely loaded with a coworker who was five years older than me. I was a disaster. Our daughter on the other hand? Well she chose something different.

She doesn’t want alcohol. It’s never interested her. Instead she wanted to have a day at work followed by an at home family dinner and some ice cream cake. Totally doable and within our means!

I’m really impressed by how much more mature she is than I ever was when it comes to partying. But we still had a lot of fun at dinner. We were listening to a playlist that her sister cream Spotify, took some silly photos and cut the ice cream cake in the worst possible ways. Laughter filled the atmosphere.

It was exactly what she wanted. Why not give a person what they ask for on their birthday? No unwanted surprises. Just a casual night at home with family. In the end it was more a gift for the rest of us than for her. She even arrived home in great spirits!

Happy 19th Birthday Random! May you always be the responsible adult you have proven to be on your first day of adulthood!

Shelved

Our kitchen is larger than our last one. There is great use of space in most of it, and a beautiful flow making it easy to navigate. There are a couple of down sides however.

The first one is that the pantry is far smaller than we are used to. It’s basically a broom closet with shelves. This will take us some getting used to, but is completely manageable. The second was an empty space with just a countertop. It looks like the space was originally created a decade ago for a phone or computer. So it was time to do something with the empty space and make it functional.

My wife and I were trying to find cabinets that we would like. But with the world being what it is, most products were on back order or not what we wanted to match our home. Since we have a certain style, it was time to get creative. I love a good diy.

Since we love dark woods and the industrial look, we came up with a plan over brunch while out in Fort Langley. Why not reclaim some wood we have and build our own shelves? I made a farm table once before. This should be easier.

A quick stop at Home Depot for some iron pipes and connectors- and voilá- shelf brackets. I went with ten inch wide pipe and twelve inch for height, with a small bar at the top to finish it off.

I needed some help to measure the anchor holes prior to hanging it up. My wife also suggested that we measure from where the coffee maker opens to so we don’t have issues trying to make our favorite beverage. What a smart lady. It’s always good to have a second set of eyes on a project.

Oh and those wood slats? They came from an old IKEA bed frame. Soon I will stain the pine wood a darker colour to match the other stuff we have. With the cost of lumber these days, I’m glad we didn’t throw them away.

So that was my quick project for our coffee bar and cookbook shelves. I like the openness of the shelves and the industrial look that matches our tastes. Let me know what you think in the comments.

Summer Tradition- Fish and Chips in White Rock

Tonight was the perfect night to go out for dinner with the family. It was also the perfect evening to eat outside and stare at the water.

Every summer we go to Crescent Beach and get ourselves deep fried cod and chips. Then off to find a log or some rocks to sit at to enjoy our dinner. This year we tried a new fish and chips location. We were not disappointed!

While we waited for the fish to cool down a bit, the family posed for a picture at the beach. After several retakes and arguing, I got a sort of okay photo of us. You’d think that after all of these years my kids would just cooperate willingly. I mean, honestly- how hard is it to give a smile to your poor old dad?

After dinner, we strolled along the beach looking at houses and the fun seaside artwork that the town has. I’m happy that we are only about a twenty minute drive to Crescent Beach. I’m hoping to go kayaking some more like we did last year- read about it White Rock Kayaking.

This summer could go on forever. I’m enjoying every minute of it. Even the arguing about posing for a picture. That’s quality family time!

Vintage Love

I am a huge fan of all things retro and vintage. Sure, I still like my modern amenities and won’t give those up any time soon. But there are some things that just bring me joy and are unique in many aspects.

I do like when old mixes with new. I picked up a couple of Panasonic noise canceling headphones with Bluetooth capabilities. I love the look of these headphones and how they remind me of elementary school libraries. That “station” where you could listen to an audio book or watch those short little filmstrip projectors. Those headphones were indestructible. I’m hoping these new ones are equally as awesome.

But the greatest thing we got as a housewarming gift came from my in-laws. They gave us six new towels for our use in our pool. The towels are fluffy and the color scheme screams 1970’s. What’s even better? The towels are from SEARS. So either my in-laws had these in storage, or somewhere out there is a Sears that is still in business. No matter what the case, I love these towels.

Do you like vintage and retro style? What makes you think it is vintage? Let me know in the comments.

Twenty Year Celebration

Yesterday we had some close friends over for an evening of hanging poolside. I love to entertain, and our anniversary was a great reason to have friends over.

We supplied our guests with food and drinks. There were bottles of wine chilling on ice for everyone’s pleasure. I had also printed off some custom labels for the water bottles. I made sure to keep everyone hydrated as we hung out in the sunshine.

Most of the evening I spent wandering around and socializing with everyone. At one point in the evening my buddies and I took a “Bro Pic”. We had done the same thing years ago at a brewery. It was the only picture i know of that was taken all day.

That’s a good thing. It means everyone was having fun and distracted from their phones. My wife and I are lucky to have such great friends that we have known for years. Even better is the fact that they mesh well with one another.

A hearty thank you to everyone for coming over and having fun yesterday. We look forward to having our friends over more often now that we are settled into our new home.