Sept 19, 1942

Today would’ve marked my father’s birthday. But he left this world in the year 2000. Funny thing is I know very little about him even though he was in my life for 24 years.

I know his birthday is today and that he was born in Prague. My knowledge of his history is limited. He kept his past a guarded secret. These are the tidbits I do know:

  • His middle initial is K. I believe it was for Karl- but I cannot be certain.
  • He has a sister (whom I’ve never met or spoken to)
  • In the summers of his youth, he was forced to leave home and work on a farm.
  • He was a helicopter mechanic in Prague when he was 17.
  • He defected to Canada in the early 1970’s.
  • He left behind a wife and child (Also whom I’ve never met or spoken to) before marrying my mother.
  • Then there are the things I can recall about him growing up:
    • He enjoyed golf.
      He owned a deli once.
      He loved to build things for his home.
      He always wanted a Mercedes Benz, so he finally bought one.
      He worked long hours.
      He never wanted to go on vacation.
      Only once did he ever return to Prague.
      He yelled a lot.
  • He rarely ever expressed an emotion besides anger towards me. I always felt like I wasn’t the son he wanted or something. I’m sure in his own way he cared and loved me, but it didn’t always show. I just hid in my room mostly.
  • Prior to his death, he only had an opportunity to meet my wife. He never met any of his grandchildren. My kids used to ask me about grandpa, but have since stopped. Partly because they are older now. But also because I don’t have anything new to tell them about him.
  • After his departure nearly 18 years ago, he is slowly becoming a faded memory- and I’ve come to terms with that. I don’t have much more to say about it all. As I said last year, I’m trying to focus on the good memories- even though they were few. Oh well.
  • Happy Birthday Josef K. Havelka
  • Pain Pity Party

    As I get older, my body hurts more. I don’t like it. It seems that my aches love to travel around my body and change off locations. The pains do not tend occur at the same time.

    This morning is lower back pain. Yesterday was my wrists. A few days ago it was my hip. Last week was my tongue. Many other places that I experience pain have been my shoulders and elbows. I worry my joints are developing arthritis. Sometimes I swear I can feel pains in my organs. Advil is my best friend every day.

    Maybe these are like growing pains of my youth. Only now they should be called Growing OLD Pains. I want these pains to ease up. I suppose I should just exercise and stretch more, right?

    Ugh. That doesn’t sound fun either. I think complaining about it is the best answer. Hashtag sarcasm. Hashtag quit complaining and do something about it.

    Pass It On

    We were going through some old trinket holders that we had on our bookshelf. My wife and I have always loved dragons and gargoyles, so when were first got together we would search out these fantasy items and gift them to each other. We ended up with a few of these trinket tins within our first few years together. Inside were some memories that we had locked away only to be discovered this past weekend.

    Inside one of our Dragon tins were a couple of necklaces and a photo of our first born from 16 years ago. One of the necklaces was filled with “Fairy Dust” and the other was of a tiny gargoyle holding a crystal ball. Super neat and I kind of wonder if our kids will ever like them…

    Inside our next box was some old rolling papers, some tags and my brass zippo lighter. You can probably guess my old lifestyle from a couple of lifetimes ago. Even the rolling papers were from before I met my wife in 2000. This was before the “3 M’s” took over my life:

    Marriage

    Mortgage

    Monsters

    The biggest surprise to me was that my Zippo lighter was still in my possession.

    I have had this Zippo since I was about fifteen years old. I would walk the halls of my high school opening and closing the lighter.

    Click-click

    Click-click

    This was my “Fidget” item of the mid-1900’s. My friends and I each had one. Mine was a brass one, my best friend at the time had a stainless steel one, another buddy had a flat black one, and we had that one friend who had a pot leaf emblem on his. Hmmm….

    My friends and I each kept our Zippos on our person at all times. You know that little pocket in your Levi’s Jeans? The perfect fit for a Zippo. It can also used for pocket watches- of which I have a few.

    When my son discovered my Zippo Lighter, he was immediately drawn to it. I showed him how to do a “top pop” squeeze to open the lighter. It took me a few tries, but just like riding a bike- it became easier after each time. For the rest of the afternoon all we could hear from my son was the familiar:

    Click-click

    Click-click

    As he opened and shut the lighter. After dinner I rummaged through my tool cabinet and found my old half full Zippo fluid container and a flint. I showed my son how to fill the lighter and explained each part to him. He was super eager to learn and was even more excited when he lit the flame for the first time.

    He wants to polish the lighter and make it shiny again. I guess it’s considered a vintage lighter now being that it’s a little over 25 years old. Crazy. But he likes it.

    And in true Dad Joke style, I am ending this post By passing him the torch.

    Headaches

    Over the past week or so I have had some major headaches going on. Part of it is because of the stress load from work. Part of it feels like it is from dehydration. Sometimes it’s due to caffeine withdrawal. Pretty sure it’s an amalgamation of all of these and more.

    I’m trying to figure out the best way to get rid of the headaches. Every night I hope for them to just go away with a good night’s sleep. But that hasn’t worked. I wake up with a throbbing pain each morning. It has even caused my eyesight to be blurry and strained while using my phone or computer when I start my day. I’m not at the debilitating migraine level, thank goodness.

    Still, I wake up in the morning and take a couple of Advil which seems to help. The headaches eventually go away for a while. Only to come back a few hours later. Meaning I need to take more Advil. This cycle isn’t really what I want. Throughout my day I am drinking more water and hope to balance out the pain slowly.

    A part of me thinks these headaches are because of my Sober September plan. I’ve never thought of myself as having a drinking problem, but maybe the alcohol not in my system is a part of these headaches. I’ll wait and see how this plays out. Chances are I might continue into a Sober October.

    Work Is Busy

    Work has been pretty busy lately. It also doesn’t look like it will slow down either. Which is a good thing in the long run because it keeps the paychecks coming in. Yay money!

    The problem is that it’s too busy at work to think. That’s the challenging part. The shift can be so overwhelming, that by the end of the day I just want to get home and sleep. There’s almost no time or energy left to want to even eat. That’s what days off are for.

    If only there was a way to recharge in the middle of the day. Socially it’s frowned upon to take a nap at work. So the polar opposite is called upon. Caffeine is my best friend. As long as it’s just enough to keep my mind going and not my body vibrating.

    Anyways, days off are approaching and this will give me a good chance to clear my mind and catch up on my naps.

    How I love my naps…

    Olympic Oval Package Unboxing

    On Thursday our middle child received a box from the Olympic Oval in Calgary. Well, mom and dad forked over a few hundred dollars and bought the stuff inside- but it was still exciting for her to open it up!

    The top of the box was super taped shut with their logo tape on it. So our daughter grabbed a knife and sliced open the box.

    Inside was a “Thank You” card from the University Of Calgary and a bunch of air packs protecting their inventory. Our daughter has been planning to go to this university for a while now, I think this makes her a bit more excited about the idea.

    Inside the box was a brand new Speed Skating helmet and some skating boots. Now she doesn’t need to borrow our club’s used equipment anymore. This weekend, we will heat up the boots and form them around her ankles to create a better fit.

    For my wife and I, these items are an investment into our children. Speed Skating promotes health, activeness and sportsmanship. Promoting these values in our children is important as the grow up. Since our children have been Speed Skating since 2010, I have no issues buying better equipment for them to use. Even when our daughters have taken time off in the past- they always want to come back to skating.

    I’m excited for our daughter and her new equipment. I think she will get some good use out of it. Who knows, maybe she will attend the University of Calgary and skate for them while she does studies.

    Early Morning Post

    Usually I try and schedule my posts for the mornings. I like to have them out for the day- I find I get more traffic that way. But sometimes I just don’t get my thoughts out ahead of time and need to post later in the evening.

    I wake up the next day and rush to stare at my phone to see if anyone has read or responded to my blog. Usually to be disappointed.

    So I’m going to try and write my blogs and have them out during the early morning on the West Coast. This is where I need to discipline myself and hunker down during my free time.

    Not going to fail myself this time. I can do it!

    The Wizard Of Speed and Time

    The Fine Arts School that our children attend is in full session now. The children are getting excited about the upcoming year. They have a lot on their plates: various music classes, theater tech, film, photography, yearbook, carving- as well as the academic classes. This school isn’t just 9-3 either. Some days the kids arrive at 07:30am. Some days they leave at 5:30pm.

    It’s a full time commitment.

    My wife and I have always encouraged the children to explore and discover new talents. Our 14 year old daughter is taking Stop Motion Animation this year and I am jittery with excitement. I’ve always loved that style of animation and films- It was big for me growing up in the 1980’s.

    Most of it was Claymation (like the California Raisins). With some shows on a regular rotation such as reruns of these gems:

    Gumby (1956-)

    Jeremy the Bear (1968-1974)


    Then there were animation movies that really came out and showed off a more demonic style of “Children’s Movies”. Here is one of my favorites:

    The Adventure Of Mark Twain (1985)


    But the 80’s also used stop motion to capture a new style of special effect. It brought monsters to life in films such as:

    Clash of the Titans (1981)


    Sometimes, a stop motion film was able to tell a story about itself… This afternoon I shared with my daughter (the one taking stop motion animation) an obscure film that I enjoyed from years gone by.

    The Wizard Of Speed And Time (1988)

    This film is based on the short stop motion film of the same title from 1977.

    The original 3 minute film was shown during a segment of The Wonderful World of Disney which is where I first saw it.

    However, this version showcases the artist struggling to make his film and all the roadblocks encountered along the way. It took five years to make and was completed in 1988. I love how this film is simple in its delivery and carries numerous subliminal messages. It has a charm that won’t win it any awards, but the heart this film shares is immense.

    After showing the film to my daughter, she is now more inspired to film stop motion than ever before. I hope she can bring forth some effects and styles from this film.

    Perhaps one day she will be the next Wizard Of Speed and Time.

    Pears

    I am not a big fan of pears. When I was younger, I used to find them sandy tasting. My preference is apples and I love baking apple pies. However, last year our apple tree fell over and subsequently is no more.

    Sad Joe.

    Near where the apple tree once was is a pear tree. It’s been there for a couple of decades, never really producing any fruit. That is until this year. I think a big part of of the bountiful crop was that our neighbors set up some bee hives last summer. Now our pear tree is producing juicy pears.

    Woah, that almost sounded appetizing.

    Sarcastic “Yay”.

    Anyhow, today I was in our backyard collecting some lovely leaves and I noticed the pear tree. So I walked up to it. When I touched one of the pears, it came off easily in my palm. I headed back to our home and grabbed a bucket and picked the tree clean.

    Now we have too many pears than I know what to do with. Off to Google I went looking for recipes. You know what I found?

    Pear Crisp.

    Lots of recipes for Pear Crisps.

    Seems like there isn’t much else to do with pears. So I made a Pear Crisp. But I am also going to try deep fried pears later tonight. I’m making a variation on Asian Pear Fritters. These sounded delicious.

    Anyways, hopefully my dislike of pears changes over the course of the next few days. We have more than enough of the fruit to make a half dozen more Pear Crisps.

    Start of An Autumn Home

    Usually I only decorate for Halloween and Christmas. This year I decided to add some warmth to our home and bring in more of an Autumn feel.

    Our house is starting to become a country home. Pine cones, candles, a fire in the background- it makes for a cozy feel. With the interior decorations well under way, it was time to make a country dinner.

    Skillet with sautéed beef and egg noodles made our home aromatic. Time to sit down and enjoy the comforts of our home as a family.