September 30th

I can’t believe that this month is over. There was so much going on that I hardly had time to notice that we entered Autumn.

There was back to school, I spent a week in Winnipeg for work, speed skating started up, a lightning storm, a couple coworkers quitting, our daughter did her first of many graduation celebrations- a packed month of plenty of memories.

I’m going to just sleep the last day of the month away. Wake me up when September ends.

First Time Generator Usage

Yesterday afternoon the power went out for about five hours. It was most likely due to the wind storm. Besides the wind, it was a nice enough day that allowed me to try out our back up generator for the first time.

In all honesty the generator we picked up is pretty heavy duty considering what we ended up running on it: A couple lamps and the Internet. Yup, we needed online access. Not the most practical use. I suppose I should look into connecting our well’s pump so we could have running water next time. Or maybe the stove top for cooking…

Anyhow, the generator works. Which is a good sign. It gave us a sense of normalcy for the few hours that our power was out.

Get Those Costumes Ready!

In a little over a month it will be Halloween! I love this time of year! Dressing up in costumes is always fun. Since we haven’t been doing the comic convention circuit over the past while, it means that this is the only time I’ll really be able to express my artistic sense.

Over the years I have made some great and not so great costumes. I’m trying to push my artistic ability this year and hope it pays off. Usually I just fashion up some clothes and take my attributes (read as being a tall lanky white guy) to create the illusion of my character. I oftentimes have a simple prop that showcases who I am supposed to be. Be it a weapon, bow tie, or dog- it’s the accessories that finish of a costume. But a big part is also embodying the characters. Acting like the person goes a long way into making it more believable.

Have you started on your costume yet? Or do you prefer to buy a ready made one? Either way is wonderful. So long as you’re letting loose and having fun being something you’re not!

Only four weekends remaining to get ready! The pressure is on! Cosplay making skills don’t fail me now!

Fridays For Future

The most recent climate change movement spearheaded by Greta Thunberg has gained momentum as of late. I feel this is probably one of the first times that the world is finally listening to its future- the children.

I am in full support of those who wish to strike for climate change. If children choose to walk out of class in support of this movement- then all the more power to them. Many of our local school boards have decided that there will not be repercussions for any students who choose to be a part of the strike. I commend the boards for their actions as well.

Clearly the world has needed some true action in regards to reducing the damage being done by humans. I’ve always heard about what I can do to help since the early 80’s. Reduce, reuse, recycle. A mantra that I am actively doing at every possible chance. But is it enough? Obviously more people, corporations, and countries need to be a part of the change.

Are you joining in #fridaysforfuture ?

Do you support children striking from school?

What do you do to help the environment?

Let me know in the comments.

Laser Swords

I’ve always loved movies. Mostly sci-fi films. Especially Star Wars. I’m always on the look out for replica movie props as well. The obvious ones are light sabers. Of which we own three screen accurate ones.

I’ve had them on display in our theater room for ages. Recently a friend made some lightsaber hilts for me out of scrap materials.

Definitely not screen accurate, but fun nonetheless. It reminded me that I too had mad a “lightsaber” almost twenty years ago. It was also not at all screen accurate.

In fact it was just four pieces of plumbing thrown together and quickly painted. But I still have it. Just because… imaginationing is great. Give a kid a stick and it turns into a sword.

Growing up I still make whir and woosh sounds if I finds something that could be a “sword”. I think it just comes naturally. These small glimpses of pretend- it can make a person smile inside and out.

You never know when you might become a Jedi.

Dark Clouds

Two lovers in a cage,

Trapped and ever so afraid

To step outside;

From the world we hide.

The street life

And the bright lights

Blind their eyes;

And send us running to obscurity-

We need to break free.

Trapped you see.

Trapped here in mediocrity.

Don’t ever trust a soul on planet earth.

Dark

Clouds

Drift away

To reveal…

Sunshine.


These are song lyrics from a mid-nineties British group called “SPACE“. The CD was titled “Spiders“. I loved the style of this band back in the day. I even had the opportunity to see them perform at a club in Vancouver way back when.

This particular song has been stuck in my head since I took the above picture yesterday morning on my drive home. It’s not just the lyrics, but the instrumental parts as well that ring on in my mind. I like the final line in the song.

Dark clouds drift away to reveal sunshine.

That’s what I work towards every day. A bit more sunshine and lot less gloom. Go give Space a listen to. I’m going to dust off my cd and listen to it later on.

What A Mess

Getting my kids to tidy up after themselves is tough. Our main living space is already hard enough to keep clean when five of us are always around. Especially with the fact that we are busy and always on the go. Always.

But their bedrooms are entities entirely unto their own. That is their place of solitude and peace if they so require it. As teens, they do love disappearing into their rooms. I just wish they’d make them, uh, more habitable.?.

Our two youngest are notorious for not making their beds. They’re also pretty good at leaving clothes everywhere as well. My wife and I try to get them to tidy up on a weekly basis. But it feels like their rooms explode into chaos almost immediately.

At least our oldest daughter takes pride in making sure her bed is made every morning. She is also the one who tries to ditch doing chores and hides in her room the most. The biggest problem with her room is she has the dog sleep in there at night. Our dog sheds a lot. Our daughter rarely vacuums her room. There is often little furryballs gathering in the corners.

It’s hard to motivate our teenagers to clean up. Instead of motivation, it usually ends up being empty threats of my wife and I claiming that we will throw everything out if they don’t clean up. But because of our hectic schedules, there isn’t much time to let the kids saunter through cleaning, so the mess just continues.

All parents face this dilemma. And it doesn’t get any better as the kids become teenagers. Oh well.

More Speed Skating Ice Time!

The Langley Blades Speed Skating Club has been able to secure a couple of hours every Sunday at a sports complex that just opened. The complex is so new that they don’t even have the concession area rented out. I’m glad that our little club jumped at an opportunity to get more ice time- this will be beneficial to all of our skaters as well as future skaters.

The new location is just a twenty minute drive from the Langley Sportsplex where we skate twice a week and have our competition meets. It may seem odd that our club has some new time at North Surrey Sport and Ice Complex, but we have skaters who live in Surrey. This is a great opportunity for them to be closer to home and maybe garner more speed skaters to join.

This new ice looks pristine and will be a great opportunity for the skaters to get more practices in. Speed Skating always seems like an afterthought at these places. Hockey and Figure Skating always comes first. We are lucky to get the time slots we do and when new times come available, the skating clubs push to try and secure a couple of hours.

Personally, our family does a lot of traveling around to make the most of the opportunities to speed skate. Every week our son skates 4-5 days for a couple of hours each time. It’s not just in Langley mind you. We also travel to Maple Ridge and Abbotsford in order to get some training. Some of the skaters at those clubs come out to Langley as well. It’s quite the little community of skaters all sharing in the knowledge and expertise of the sport.

Now that we have a Surrey location- maybe there will be a new club created. But in the meantime, they shall carry the Blades name for the foreseeable future.

For more information about our club, visit Langley Blades or find them on Facebook. We’d love to see more up and comers join in the sport.

Sauna

We bought our home with a sauna already built in. About a decade ago we stopped using it and it became another closet for storage. After my trips to Winnipeg and Fort St. John, where I used saunas to relax, I realized I want our sauna back.

Yesterday, I cleared it out and set up the benches again. I vacuumed up the cobwebs and dust from the walls and heater. I turned on the elements and the heat was returning. The smell of the remaining dust burning off was strong. However, shortly after the heat stopped working. So much for relaxing on a Saturday night.

How do you troubleshoot a sauna built in the 1970’s? I seriously have no idea where to begin. It obviously was getting power. My guess is that it could be one of three things-

  1. The thermostat is toast.
  2. The elements are toast.
  3. Perhaps there’s a fuse or relay switch that’s toast.

It’ll have to wait until my next set of days off. But how do I go about checking these things? I need to see if there’s and obvious fuse somewhere either in the controls or under the burners. That’s where I’ll first start. I really hope it’ll be something simple. I’m not sure what the cost would be to replace the entire heating mechanism. As well, the thermostat is built into the wood walls and I don’t really want to start tearing apart the sauna.

I’ll post an update if I eventually figure out the issue. I’ll need to relax once this is all sorted out. Wish me luck. I’ll also take any advice you have to offer.

Elite Achievement Unlocked

Yesterday I hit another milestone on WordPress. I’m really proud of myself and also can’t believe it. I hit 1337 days in a row of writing!

Amazing! When I first started, I didn’t imagine that I’d have three and a half years of daily writing in me. But here we are. A bunch of thoughts and stories out there in the interwebs as I try and navigate this universe. Hence the title of my blog, Making It Up As I Go.

Maybe I’m inspirational at times. Sometimes I’m sharing how I parent with the accomplishments and challenges the three kids of ours bring forth. I try and be positive as often as possible. Sometimes my baggage gets shared, but I find it a great way to work through emotional turmoil. It makes me a better person to get it out rather than having a pit inside me fester and rot.

1337

I hope everyone who reads and follows along has enjoyed my musings over the past 1337 posts. I feel ELITE having made is this far. Thank you for joining me on my journey.

Grad Cruise Night

Less than two weeks into the Grade 12 year and already the ceremonies are beginning. I attended the first of many meetings for the end of year “Dry Grad“. I’ve even put forth my name as a volunteer to help search out venues and activities. It sounds like previous years have been a ton of fun and we hope to make this one just as memorable. We have until June to finalize everything to promote a safe evening for these teens.

Yesterday our oldest went on her “Grad Cruise” with her classmates. We bought her a dress online a few months back. Before yesterday’s event, I took her out to get her hair done. She talked nonstop with the hairdresser and another lady, which is completely unlike my daughter.

She beamed with excitement and couldn’t leave our home fast enough to get to the Cruise. She was in such a hurry that she forgot her ticket and I had to drive it out to her. Which is totally fine with me because I’m more than happy to be there for our kids when they need me.

This is the year that I’ve also noticed that our oldest is being more social than ever. She is talking to my wife and I about her friends and the things going on in her life. I’m glad she wants to include us in everything as well. Seeing her in her dress yesterday with a big smile made me realize how much of a marvelous woman she is becoming; and how she will soon venture out into the world without our help or guidance.

But until then, I’m still going to take pictures and be a part of these graduation ceremonies! I’m so excited for her to make it through these school years and have an end goal in sight. It’s definitely a reason to celebrate!

Trying To Be A Better Man

Today would’ve been my father’s birthday. Over the years I’ve been trying different ways to remember the good in him. Which has been difficult when the bad memories were more impactful. From September 19 (My father’s birthday) to November 25th (the date he passed away) I’m not a pleasant person to be around at home. I’ve been consciously making different choices in my life to try and be a better person each and every day.

For two years in a row I grew a beard. It made me look like him. I was thinking of making it a tradition, but last year my family pushed hard and made me feel bad that I grew facial hair. I’m not sure why, but I’d rather not have bitterness thrown at me from those whom I care about. So no beard planned this year.

Last year I did “Sober September” and this year I’m trying as well. I had a couple of beers once this month and felt instant shame in myself for being weak. The reason is my father drank heavily and I worry that the trait runs deep in my genes. Especially when I look back at most of my Instagram posts and see a lot of beer in my hands.

Obviously I’d love to say that I am in control of my drinking, but am I? I come home from work and would like a beer with dinner. I have days off and want to see friends which generally brings up drinking. Maybe this year I’ll try not drinking from September 19 to November 25th. Do the complete opposite of what my father would do. Maybe only then can I push the negative out of my mind and bring out the positive memories.

I sure don’t want to end up like him- sour, angry and dead by age 58. That doesn’t appeal to me. I want to be a better person.

I know I’m a better person. I just need to remind myself from time to time.

Why Am I Sick!?

I think I brought back something from Winnipeg that I didn’t overly want. A massive head cold and stomach bug. It started slowly on Sunday, but blossomed into something much less desirable by the end of Tuesday.

Taking a sick day is rare for me. But I really needed it. Sleep and medicine has been useful in trying to combat this attack on my body. Wearing comfortable pjs and eating comfort food has also been helping. (That’s probably just the lazy factor making me happy.)

I want to blame the recirculated air on the airplanes for this. But it’s probably a culmination of that plus back to school (kids are germ spreaders!) and the change in weather. My stockpile of unused tissues is diminishing as my collect of used ones increases.

Ugh. I just want to get back to feeling normal.

Is that too much to ask?

Vivaldi

The past few days I have been enjoying listening to Vivaldi: La Cetra, 1-7. It has made my drive to and from work a bit more pleasant and calm. There’s something about hearing stringed instruments as they eloquently form each piece. As I listen to La Cetra I can also pick out the piccolo and harpsichord. Two very unique sounds that work well together.

Many know Vivaldi as written Four Seasons which is also a fantastic piece. I’m a huge fan of classical music and the variety of styles that come with each composer. Next week I am planning on listening to another composer as I travel to and from work. Perhaps Mozart, Bach, Handel or Beethoven. Whichever suits my fancy on my first day of commuting.

Do you appreciate classical music?

Who are your favorite composers?

Let me know.

Saying Farewell To A Coworker

It’s bittersweet when a coworker leaves. You’re happy for them to be making a change, but upset that they are leaving. Especially if you’ve worked side by side for years.

This week at the railroad is the last for a close friend of mine. It’s going to be hard to say goodbye, so the sarcasm and jokes are already coming out. I wrote a note of “encouragement” on a picture that I had hanging in our office for almost a year.

KC,

Good luck @ KM. You’re only gonna last 3 weeks!

#sixseasonsandamovie

-Joe

He and I had very similar tastes in entertainment. We often had discussions about movies and tv shows. My farewell to him is in reference to the show “Community”. A show we both enjoyed.

In a couple of days, he shall be off to a new adventure. We will still be in contact periodically because our railroad services the company he is moving to. The dynamic will change, but out jokes shall remain the same. I wish him all the best in his new adventure.

Weekend? What Weekend?

After a week in Winnipeg, I only had one day off this weekend. So I spent it with my wife and family. I filled the day with some one on one time with everyone. I enjoyed their company immensely. I think my family legitimately missed me while I was gone.

Now it’s back to my regular work week. But every night after work will be dinner with my family. No restaurants or hotel swimming pools. Just some quality time with those who I love. They are the reason I go to work. I want them all to enjoy a good life.

Flying Home

Yesterday my coworker and I arrived at the airport in Winnipeg over 3 hours before we could board our flight. Needless to say- we were eager to get home.

I sat at the window staring out at the tarmac and our gate, “patiently” waiting for our plane to arrive. At one point I ended up taking a 45 minute nap to help pass the time.

I rebooked my seat the night before so that I could be in the 4th row in order to be one of the first passengers to disembark. WestJet offered some free “inflight entertainment” that we could access from our personal devices over their WiFi network. I watch a movie for the majority of my flight until the last 15 minutes. Then I watched on my phone as our plane approached the Vancouver Airport. From near my home in Langley, the plane landed 8 minutes later.

I think that the plane crew wanted to get out of Winnipeg quickly as well. Since all the passengers were on board early- our flight left fifteen minutes ahead of schedule. Meaning we arrived in Vancouver early.

It is nice to be home back and with my family. I missed their company tremendously. Now to get back into the daily grind…

Carnaval

Yesterday I mentioned Business Trip Eats and the variety of food we’ve been eating. Nothing really stood out. That is until last night. Where we indulged.

Excessively.

A coworker who had come to Winnipeg previously, as well as my boss recommended a restaurant to me for our last night here. So three of us hit up a place in Winnipeg called Carnaval: Brazilian BBQ. It was an all you can eat meat extravaganza.

There was so much meat. It was on huge skewers and the cooks brought it around to each table asking if we wanted to sample some. At first we were tackling the food faster than it was coming out.

Beef, pork, chicken, lamb, more beef, sausage, wings, beef again… it just never stopped. As we were eating, we were laughing at how awesome the food was and how foolish this restaurant is. Because we were going to get our money’s worth and more.

The food was coming so quickly that I hardly had time to pause and get any photos. It was evident rather quickly that we were going to be in trouble. Our laughter about how this restaurant was foolish turned into how foolish we were.

We only managed to eat for an hour. We were stuffed. And hurting. But it was so worth it. My coworker Dillon was putting me to shame with his ability to want to continue sampling the meats. I was unprepared to push my limits and was done about four plates before him.

If you ever make it to Winnipeg- the Carnaval Brazilian BBQ is worth a stop. Especially if you love meat. And BBQ. And hating yourself afterwards.

Business Trip Eats

This trip to Winnipeg has been enjoyable as well as disheartening when it comes to meals. I call it “Food Mood Swings.”

My work has been kind enough to feed us at lunch from a cafeteria. Every day is a small bowl of soup, a sandwich, a dessert- (always get the Nanaimo Bar) and some sort of entree that can be made for a few hundred of us. There’s also a salad bar which I will say is very fresh. So we get fed sustenance in a sense.

Dinners are more on my own to go and find. My coworker and I have been to a different place every night. First night was in the hotel since we were late getting in and didn’t want to try and find anywhere. The next few nights were chain restaurants that generally have the same food we’d eat back home.

I’ve enjoyed have beef and onions in my meals again. My coworker is astounded that I like getting a steak “BLUE RARE” but I love the texture of the meat just as much as the taste. The two times that I had steak this week were only mediocre. The restaurants weren’t exactly good at doing it the way I liked it.

Last night we went to Hooters for some wings. I don’t usually eat wings, so it was pretty okay. The other three guys I was with were trying a far spicier style of wing than I was wanting. I don’t tend to do HOT or meat on the bone, so this wasn’t something that I am adept to eating. The company was great though with some good conversation.

Only one more night of restaurant eating and two days of cafeteria food. I hope the menus perk up a bit.

Exam Stress? Not if You Don’t Know About Them

What the heck. Taking exams is mentally exhausting. I’ve done two days of classroom studying so far. During those two days- we also wrote exams. Every test was sprung on us as well. I was mentally tired by the end of the day.

I suppose I should be ready for the next three days and expect to do three exams (or more like we did on day two). The stress of the exams is somewhat minimal so far since we don’t have time to prepare and freak out.

Not passing these tests is not an option. On the bright side it’s all open book. A lot of the information has been ingrained into my mind over the past dozen years. So I know the answers, but I need to put it in writing in a fashion similar to what our rule book states. That’s on the last day I believe. So far it is multiple choice and I’m feeling pretty confident with my skills.

You got this Joe!

The sauna and pool at the end of the day washes away the stress.

School Is Back In Session or How to Survive Re-Learning at Age 43

Every three years, I have to get re-certified as a conductor/switchman. The previous times I did it in my home town area of Vancouver. This time around my company sent me to Winnipeg. This is where the new centralized training center is located.

The CN Campus is huge and modern feeling. We have been treated to unlimited coffee and a cafeteria style lunch. The classroom portion itself is, basically, dry. When learning rules that are important for the safety and service of our industries- it’s difficult to make it entertaining.

At least after those eight hour days we get to go and leave it all behind us for the evening. My coworker and I headed back to the hotel where I enjoyed the pool and sauna while he hit the gym. The 21st floor of our hotel has the pool and views of the city. A few minutes in the hot tub and I was relaxed again.

On to day 2 of the classroom portion. Hopefully my swimsuit will be dry for another evening dip and relaxation afterwards.

Winnipeg

I’m in Winnipeg for the week doing some work training. Sunday was a day of travel.

My flight was on Air Canada. Where everything cost extra. So no in-flight movie or snacks for my 2 1/2hr flight. I relaxed and closed my eyes for the majority of the flight. So did the fellows sitting in my row. It was peaceful.

We arrived in Winnipeg and I grabbed my car rental. My coworker and I drove to our hotel just as dusk was falling. I was unable to really form an opinion on this city- so it’ll have to wait until after class this week.

I will say, I’m happy with the hotel we are at. The concierge was friendly and the amenities are amazing. I cannot wait to try some of the recommended restaurants this week after class time.

This is sort of like a “working vacation” where we are away from our regular routines and get to experience a different city. A city I probably never would’ve chosen to visit…

Lightning Storm 2019

Last night brought forth some excitement in our neighborhood. Quite the light show was coming from the heavens. So we sat on our front stoop and watched and listened to the thunder and lightning.

The glow from the lightning was pretty intense. We spent a good couple of hours outside trying to catch some pictures and video. Thank goodness for having a covered area to sit in.

There were plenty of cheers going on after each blast. Oohs and Aahs were rampant. As well as plenty of “DID YOU SEE THAT?!?

The weather app even added motion lightning strikes across the screen. It was a fun Saturday night had by all. I’m glad we decided to enjoy it.

Is It Autumn Yet?

The daylight is getting shorter. The leaves on the trees are starting to change colour. It’s foggy in the mornings. We must be on the cusp of autumn.

So I decorated our front stoop accordingly!

We had an old wooden chair in our barn that I set up out front. I had bought a couple of metal buckets from the dollar store last year and filled them with firewood. I gathered some leaves that had fallen and placed them around. Finally, our crone gargoyle sits patiently waiting for Halloween.

On the other side of the door I put an unfinished “living edge” table (also from our barn). I set up our collection of British Columbia Beer Growlers from our road trips over the past few years. I surrounded everything with some leaves, dried seeds and bark.

I’m happy with the results and have a few other decorative ideas to add to our home before Halloween takes over. I finally found my glue gun at 11pm last night, but won’t be starting a project until later in the day.

What do you do to decorate for the seasons?

Do you like fall as much as I do?

Let me know in the comments section!

Marking Ice

Speed Skating Ice requires marking at the start of the season. We share the rink with hockey and figure skating. Thursday morning, a few of the parents (and a coach) came out to do it. It’s more time consuming than I once thought. This is the third time I’ve helped out and the sixth time my wife has.

Marking the ice requires strict measurements so the the skaters can have accurate results for their times.

We each had a job to do. A few of us were measuring marking where we needed to place dots. One person was drilling holes for the dots, while two people painted the bottom of each one a different colour.

My job was to go around with a spray bottle and fill the holes back up with water once the paint began to freeze. I had to walk laps around the rink slowly filling each hole with water. A bit over a hundred holes and an hour and a half of walking. I began singing to myself “Watering the dots. I’m watering the dots..” to the tune of Disney’s Alice in Wonderland’s “Painting the Roses Red”.

It was a good feeling knowing that what we were doing will benefit the skaters all year. I like to think that our volunteering and support goes a long way. Now we are ready to start cheering and coaching the skaters for another season.