Carving Pumpkins 2020

This year I bought some pumpkins for carving. My two daughters and I try and push the limits on our skills as well. Both of them are getting much better at pumpkin carving all thanks to my advice and assistance.

Although I will say, our oldest is getting to a point of almost surprising my skills. Take a look at the detail in her “Audrey 2” carving.

The leaves and the lips have definition and realism added! This took her about five hours to complete. I am truly impressed.

Our other daughter has been at her carving for hours. She even took a break and started working on it again today. She still isn’t finished, but I have faith in her. She’ll get her meme completed by Halloween!

I did one of my favorite fandoms- “Firefly”. In my carving, I love the way the light shines through the title. My spaceship isn’t quite as detailed as my daughter’s pumpkin. It still took my nearly four hours to complete. Of course, immediately after I took my photos of the pumpkin lit up, I dropped it and it broke in half.

I was a bit upset. But not angry. Pumpkins get thrown away after as it is. So for me, the carving is the therapeutic exercise that I enjoy. I’m glad I got the pictures at least.

How are your pumpkins looking this year? Ever have a failure like I did after hours of hard work?

Let me know in the comments.

Provincial Vote 2020

Today is the official day to vote for the Provincial Election of British Columbia. There was the option to mail in a vote or hit the advance voting stations. We chose to head out first thing this morning and cast our ballots.

It was also our 18 year old daughter’s first chance to vote and have her voice heard as an adult. As much as I wanted to commemorate the day with a picture of her- you’re not supposed to take any photos inside. But even before and after, she was adamant that she didn’t want me taking her picture. So I didn’t.

My first time voting was also at the age of 18. Since then, I have voted in every election that comes around, including referendums. Who I vote for doesn’t always win. In fact it feels like they rarely win. But it gives me a chance to share my choice in hopes to better the rest of the population.

It seems a tad bit crazy to be out voting during a pandemic. But here we are. So if you go out to vote today (or those in the USA who need to vote) remember to stay safe and follow guidelines. Wear the mask, use the sanitizer and keep your distance from others. But get out there and have your voice heard!

Beetlejuice Time

Halloween family film tonight is the 1988 classic- Beetlejuice.

This is easily one of our favorite films to traditionally watch each year. Kind of like when we watch Independence Day on July 4th. Or our regular viewing of Christmas Story every year.

I loving having traditions like this. Where we as a family just hang out on a Friday night and enjoy a film we’ve seen numerous times.

We also enjoy “The Nightmare Before Christmas” and have that movie memorized. Along with each and every song. Which reminds me- Beetlejuice is a Broadway musical now! I need to see it one day.

Do you have any family movies you watch regularly with your kids?

What a Day For a Picture

I was enjoying the autumn day. It was brisk and sunny. With a hint of clouds in the sky. I enjoyed driving to get my kids in the afternoon.

So I took a photo. A photo of the roads, the clouds, and the sun.

I quickly lined up my leading lines, rule of thirds, and the horizon. All the crazy skills I had learned in high school. An almost perfect picture.

Except the green lens flare spot in the bottom left. But just like life, it’s not perfect, but it is mine. And I like it.

Dealing With Negativity

As I write my blogs, I have been doing my best to remain positive. Writing about positive vibes is one of the reasons for my blog. It helps to bring my mental health into a good place. I’m not perfect, but over the past few years I’ve been trying to improve myself and those around me.

Who I was as a teenager or young adult is not who I am today. I’ve taken a look back at who I was and have noticed a huge shift in my mental well-being. As well as how I engage with others. I have also needed to remove people from my life if I have felt they are doing more harm than good in this world.

My life, and what I write, is freely shared out there. I welcome feedback- both positive and constructive. I don’t mind an opposing viewpoint. But sometimes rude and negative comments are shared.

It leaves me with a decision to make- Ignore the comment? Engage in a debate/argument? Or delete the comment? I know that I have the upper hand- I have the power to chose how I will engage. I take a day or two for my thoughts to deal with the negativity.

So how do you deal with negative people? Is it worth it to be a jerk to others just to engage in toxic behavior? Not for me.

Make Happiness

I work hard at making myself happy. What makes me happy may not make others happy in the same way. I also can’t force my happiness onto others.

I put my happiness first, as long as it doesn’t steal away from or hurt others. That’s important- don’t try and take someone else’s happiness in order to fulfill your own.

I’m happy. Really.

I hope you’re happy.

Hope

There’s a couple elections coming up. One big one in the USA that the world is watching. And one in our Canadian province of British Columbia- that most people don’t seem to notice. I will be voting locally, but thinking globally.

As for the US election- I hope that something good comes from it.

In fact HOPE is the most important factor for many of the citizens. HOPE for good health care. HOPE for education. HOPE for equality. HOPE for a strong economy. HOPE for a future.

I have hope that the right decisions will be made over the next few weeks. Canada lays out HOPE. In fact there’s even a town in BC called Hope. I often drive through it. In fact, I always joke that I’m “Beyond Hope” once I go passed. I don’t want North America to be “Beyond Hope”.

Please, go vote.

Foster The Feelings

My coworker and his girlfriend foster dogs from time to time. I told him if they ever got a Corgi to let me know. Turns out that a dog arrived in their care within a few days of my request. So yesterday they brought over this dog for us to meet.

Her name is Scarlet. as you can see- Not a pure bred Corgi. Nor is she a puppy. She is half Corgi/half Husky and about six years old. Immediately my kids were drawn to her. So we opted to have Scarlet stay with us for a week and see how things progress.

Well it seems that day one she has no qualms with Lex- our other dog. She is also finding it rather easy to just relax in our home. Her manners are impeccable and she has enjoyed hanging out with the family.

Scarlet has even chosen the bed she wants to sleep in. Turns out that Darwin and her have made a bond already. Having a dog on the furniture has always been a big no-no for me. But Scarlet has been really cute and it’s hard to say no.

After this week ends, we shall see what happens. But judging from the first day, we may just have a new member of the family joining us. I’m not quite sold on one thing about her though. Her name. She doesn’t seem like a Scarlet to me.

But if that’s the worst thing I can truly find about her, then that’s on me.

Organized Mess

It’s the last day of my vacation. The family is home as well with me. So we are going to do some quality family time activities- cleaning the house.

It’s amazing how quickly a home can feel like a disaster. Odds and ends being left around instead of put away immediately. Items just dumped willy-nilly in hopes that someone else will pick it up. Not today. Today we are all going to tidy this place. Time to even close the cupboards and drawers that get left partially open as well. Let’s get things put away completely please.

We are even going to dust and remove the cobwebs. I know- counterproductive with Halloween just around the corner. But it needs to be done. My allergies are taking a hit these days and it’s almost time to turn on the heat. Nothing worse than the smell of burning dust as you try and warm the homestead.

If you need me- I’ll be the one barking orders and checking the work being done by our teenagers. They love it when I make them do a task more than once in order to get it right. Ah, quality learning moments.

Halloween Costume 2020

Halloween 2020 is going to be more subdued than originally expected. Our son is going to his friend’s place for the evening and our middle is having a couple friends over to watch some horror films. Being that they are teenagers now, last year was pushing it for Trick-or-treating anyhow.

This year I am not planning on some elaborate Halloween costume. Last year was fun- Halloween 2019. I made a proton pack with my son for his costume. And I destroyed it with my Skesis costume. I’m not going to fall back on my favorite Obi-Wan Kenobi, Rick Sanchez or my Hudsucker Proxy costumes. I was pretty good in those ones- even acting the part as required.

No, this year I’m going as the actor behind the roles of horror long ago.

I’m wanting to do a tribute to the Late Great Vincent Price. And a bit of a throwback to my favorite image of him from The Muppet Show back in the late 70’s. I’ve picked up a jacket, just need to get an ascot!

For those of you who will see me over the next couple of weeks- forgive the mustache. And if anyone has a Kermit the Frog to lend me- I’d be indebted.

Coffee Talk

This morning I met with a friend that I haven’t seen in about a year and a half. I suggested we do what the older people in my neighborhood do. So we went for a breakfast up the road at the Co-Op and shared stories over a cheap meal and cheap coffee. Like a couple of old guys just being old guys meeting up.

The reason for our lengthy absence wasn’t evident nor important. Life just, uh, finds a way. And life gets busy. We were both still in contact through social media and the occasional text message. But meeting face to face is always different.

What could’ve been a quick meet up, turned into a three hour talk. Discussions about family, work, and even politics were on the table. A healthy back and forth, sharing the ups and downs as of late, and offering sage advice to one another. We both have similar outlooks on all of the above. Both of us aiming to stay positive and working towards just being better people.

After three hours together, it felt as if we hadn’t lost anything in our friendship. Those hours today only felt like a brief moment. A moment that I was surprised had lasted so long. I sense that our friendship won’t ever falter. Perhaps we can meet up more often as the world gets settled into a new lifestyle.

It was good to talk to that old friend as we acted like old guys. My advice- don’t be afraid to just drop a line to someone who mattered in your life. You never know when you both need to reconnect.

Forgotten Songs of My Teenage Years

This morning I spent a considerable amount of time putting together an eclectic playlist on Spotify. Find it Here. Creating this playlist sent me down a rabbit hole of nostalgia.

Many of the songs remind me of old friendships and fun times. Driving around town, sitting in my bedroom, even hanging out in class, buying albums through Columbia House, and overplayed songs on repeat. Using one headphone as you shared with a friend of the opposite sex and not hearing the stereo sound. But willing to sacrifice that for a chance to sit closer.

I still have many of my cds. But they are stored away in a steamer trunk as I don’t have a way to play them except in my car. And even then- using Bluetooth to play different playlists is the new normal. So much more convenient than the large booklets of cds we once carried around.

Enjoy the musical trip down my memory lane. A couple songs are NSFW but fun nonetheless.

Edit: An old friend asked to make this “Collaborative”. Anyone who knew me from my teenage years and can think of a song that reminds them of me- add away!

Victoria: Day 3- Walking

We started our final day in Victoria by walking around Canada’s oldest Chinatown. There were the typical shops filled with cheap knickknacks. It was most fun to just squeeze down the narrow alleyways and admire the brickwork of the buildings.

We tooled around the tourist part of downtown Victoria and stopped in at a bookstore followed by a macaron shoppe. Both places were greeted by our kids with enthusiasm.

On our drive back to the ferry terminal- we stopped at The Butchart Gardens. I always wanted to visit this place, but never made the time to do so. Unfortunately, because it is autumn- the garden was rather lackluster. I’m sure it is far more vibrant and lovely in the spring and summer when the rose garden is in full bloom.

I did enjoy walking through the Japanese Garden and the Italian Garden. The time of year was good for the fact that it wasn’t crowded. Perhaps one day I shall see it in the spring time. But it has taken me until ages 44 to go my first time, so there may not be a second time. Especially since there is so much more of the world to explore.

At the end of the day we got lucky and made it on a ferry an hour earlier than planned. All of our walking had made us very tired, so that hour made all the difference in our trip. I do look forward to visiting Victoria once again some day. I have always enjoyed traveling there.

Victoria: Day 2- Impressed by the Empress

On Sunday we booked High Tea at The Empress in Victoria for the family. Over the decades of traveling to Victoria- I’ve always wanted to see the inside of The Empress. My wife and I wanted to make this trip to Victoria special for our daughters. Our sixteen year old had never been here, and our eighteen year old needed a way to celebrate her high school graduation.

Walking into The Empress is overwhelming and intimidating. Every bit about it was elegant. From the piano player to the china with which our tea was served- posh is the word that comes to mind.

We did our part by dressing in our Sunday Best. The kids behaved in their best possible manners as well. We got some great photos with beautiful smiles.

My wife and I chose a Rose tea that was a favorite of Princess Diana. Our children each chose a flavour that matched their palette. The food which was served was decadent and delectable. We were presented with fabulous tea sandwiches and desserts.

This trip was probably the most extravagant experience we have ever shared as a family. From staying in the penthouse suite to experiencing a high tea- this weekend getaway was a one of a kind local journey.

Moments like these matter most to us. My wife and I hope that our children will talk about this in years to come.

Victoria: Day One

We arrived in Victoria, BC at 9:55 Saturday morning. We were all extremely hungry, so we lined up at Jam Cafe and waited an hour to get in for some of the most amazing brunch meals ever. Seriously, I had an eggs Benedict on top of deep fried chicken- my belly was in love. My espresso was perfect and well needed to get me through the day.

Afterwards we headed for a walk towards the Royal BC Museum. We took a couple of tourist photos along the way including in front of the parliament building and The Empress hotel. We also had some fun with our photos.

After a three hour wander through the museum, we headed to our hotel- Victoria Regent Hotel, turns out we got upgraded to a penthouse suite on the top floor! The kids love it. We watched the sun set over the harbour and caught a sea plane landing from overhead.

As night fell, we enjoyed the views of the lights and my daughter and I decided to head out for an evening on the town and took some more tourist pictures. Lots of walking had us passing out early and ready for another day of adventure.

Early Morning Travel to Victoria

The family was woken up by 4:30am and we were on the road 45 minutes later. We had packed up the night before in order to get those few minutes more of sleep. It was an early morning in order to maximize our weekend away.

It was a rainy drive to the ferry terminal. Knowing it was a going to be a busy weekend, we decided to book a reservation on the ferry so as not to wait. We had about 30 minutes to sit and wait prior to boarding. The rain eased off as we departed for the waters.

My wife and youngest children brought the Nintendo Switch to keep themselves occupied during our hour and a half sailing. I chose to take a nap and our oldest read a book.

As you can see from the picture of the family- the ferry was fairly empty. Departing at 45% capacity due to COVID precautions. It’s one of the only times I’ve enjoyed the ferry ride. I’m not a big fan of crowds or people being near me. I was far more comfortable taking my brief nap.

The sun attempted to break through the clouds on our journey across the water. We passed a few other ferries along the way with a few toots from the horn of the vessels.

Our day was truly about to begin once we docked. A list of activities were planned for our brief time away this weekend. I’m looking to the time spent with the family.

Toy Action

My son decided that today he would take some action shots of his Star Wars toys and Lego Star Wars toys.

He set up numerous shots. He also worked in a bunch of techniques that made the toys look like they were truly telling a story. Here is a collection of a few of his favorite pictures:

He was having a great time while doing this. These images he took are fun. He plans on editing these, plus some of the others with a variety of filters. I can’t wait to see what else he comes up with.

Autumn Jazz and Mixer

Spotify Fun

I discovered an Autumn Jazz mix on Spotify. It has some great classics, and tons of songs that I know from years of hearing them. I appreciate these playlists more than expected.

This playlist is filled with a bunch of 1940’s-1980’s music. Lots of trumpets and swing style songs. Great as background music while siting around.

I catch myself dancing around the house as well while no one is here. Even shaking my butt in my chair while sitting at the table having lunch. If music moves you- why not share the joy with others?

Honestly, I was listening to White Zombie earlier this morning. Which is quite the difference to what I am listening to now. Do you have an autumn go-to playlist?

Staycation- All I Ever Wanted…

Today I am starting my 11 day vacation. I booked this time off in January as a “back-up” trip to Disneyland when I realized that July’s trip may get affected. And July’s trip did get affected. But so did my back-up dates. So now I am having a Staycation.

Today will be an ever increasing lazy day of sleeping and napping. Over the next few days the rest of my family still has school, online courses and work. I will have the freedom to do whatever I want. You know what that means…

That means time to get really invested in my 3D printing! Download files, prepare the files, print the files, curse that there is a failure, reprint the files, sand the print, paint the print, sand the print, paint, assemble the print, print another file, fail at that and reprint it… the list goes on. But I will have all the time in the world (or at least daylight hours) to work on my prints.

Since I am a Star Wars fan- I actually intend to print a life size droid. This week will give me a good jumpstart on my first one. I suspect it will take me the better half of the year to really get an R2 unit put together. So I may start with something smaller or easier. Yes- I plan on having a few droids built. Don’t tell my wife.

Having time for me is going to be nice. It’s been a very long time since I’ve really focused on what I want. Usually I put the family first and enjoy the ride. We will still hang out this weekend together, but during the week- that will be my time. Or rather, my 3D printer’s time.

Have You Begun Holiday Shopping?

The year is in the final quarter. That means gift giving season is approaching quickly. Whether you celebrate Winter Solstice or any number of religious based holiday- giving gifts is a big part of it.

Ordering online is a gamble these days. Sometimes packages are shipped overnight while other times it could be a few weeks. Ordering from Amazon is interesting, I swear that a new package arrives every other day. So I am trying to get the goods before the crazy rush that will approach makes it difficult.

I worry that I will resort to last minute shopping in a Walmart mid-December. When all the good stuff is gone. I’m already getting panicky that our gifts will feel meager when under the tree. Who knows. I have a few tricks up my sleeves still in order to make Christmas special.

Are you ready for the holidays? How much shopping do you have left? Does shopping in Walmart scare you? Let me know in the comments.

Doctrine

This morning when I came home from work, I decided to have a cup of coffee as I usually do. Instead of grabbing one of the Matching Mugs that my wife and I use, I chose to grab an old mug of my father’s. I somehow inherited the mug decades ago, and forgot about its existence until today.

It states on the mug this poem:

Joe

Meaning: Contributor

If there is one doctrine

You truly believe

It’s this one: It is nicer

To give than receive.

Your heart is unblemished

By envy or greed;

You are there for all

In times of desperate need.

Because of the kindness

And love you distribute,

You shall improve this world-

You’ll truly contribute.

I remember gifting my father this mug when I was a child. With it’s faded paint and cracking glaze, it continues telling a story. One that I read numerous times growing up. A story that I feel I have inadvertently made real.

The doctrine on the mug is one I tend to follow as often as I can. Being an ear for the voices, having my hand to hold, and passing on my love to those who need it- fills me with a great joy. I’m always the person to be counted on when needed most.

Autumn Evening Paddle

I thought that at the end of August, we wouldn’t be out on our kayaks for the rest of the year. Turns out that the weather is cooperating these days and proving me wrong.

Late yesterday afternoon, my wife and I drove for about an hour to Aloutte Lake to set in the water. We arrived shortly before sunset and the lake was still alive with boats and people enjoying picnic dinners.

Even though the haze from smoke was still in the air- we were able to enjoy the autumn colours. The trees shared with us the oranges and browns that they were changing into. The sky even reflected the glass like quality that the lake had to offer up.

My wife and I headed back to shore shortly after dusk settled in. It was a short excursion, but the time I had with my wife both on the lake and driving, was some enjoyable quality time.

Sometimes my wife is right. Taking time away from the hustle and bustle- as short as those moments may be- is worth putting the effort into.

Home Made KFC

I love my deep fryer. My wife is trying to convince me to get an air fryer in order to eat healthier. But I am proving to her that I am a deep fry king! In fact, as lunch was cooking she mentioned how wonderful it smelled in the kitchen.

Today is deep fried drumsticks for a late afternoon lunch. I modified a KFC recipe I found online and added some herbs from our garden into the flour mix. I’m also going to get some French fries down for more salty goodness!

My favorite part about deep frying is the old oil adds flavors to the foods that come afterwards. That is why when I change the oil- I start with donuts and churros. No one wants onion ring flavored desserts. But onion ring flavor mixing with popcorn shrimp is completely acceptable.

I’m about three more meals like this away from clogging my arteries. But life is for living- so I shall enjoy these moments of unhealthy choices until I decide that I need to be better with my heart.

And get an air fryer.

Re-Learning How To Use An Apple Computer

Back in elementary school during the early 80’s I learned how to use an Apple IIe. A large floppy disk drive with a single button mouse and a black and green monitor. At home I was learning DOS on an Adam computer with magnetic tape drives.

In high school during the early 90’s I used a Macintosh. There was a computer lab- called the Mac Lab. My school also had two IBM labs. I enjoyed the shareware from the IBMs and programming, but my passion to create pixel art- was done on a Mac.

At home I’ve never owned an Apple computer. I always ran Windows based computers. But I still enjoyed using an iPod followed by an iPhone. A few years ago I picked up some iPad minis for the kids. Three years ago my wife got a MacBook for her work. Recently they updated her to a Google Pixelbook. So she had the opportunity to buy her MacBook Air, and she did.

So now I’m re-learning how to use an Apple computer. So far, a few hours have been spent. A few headaches, but I’m getting back into understanding once more how Apple operating systems work. It will be a family laptop for school mostly. But I look forward to being creative with Apple once more.

All The Leaves Are Brown… Again

It’s October 1st my spookies! The world around here is changing from green and blue to orange and black. I love this gothic feeling that arrives before Halloween. I almost wrote the same title as i did last year for a similar story today- All The Leaves Are Brown.

With the change is seasons, comes the wonder of nature. The way the leaves begin to fade out from green. As if magically overnight- the air gets crisp and the ground below crutches underfoot. I remember meeting a couple of older ladies collecting leaves a few years ago- Leafers

In our yard, we have mostly pine needles falling. There are a few maple trees and what we like to call an “elephant ear tree” that shed leaves. Over the next week or so I suspect that we will be taking the dead leaves up into large piles to jump into. We should be lucky this year and not find any dog turds lurking underneath. (Our puppy is getting much older and tends to do his business just outside the door in an easy to find location.)

So be on the lookout as you enjoy your autumn walks. Especially if you have kids who love to kick up the fallen leaves. Nothing worse than stepping in a poop landmine and carrying that smell around.

And if you have a dog- please pick up after them. Unless you find it funny to surprise unwitting strangers, then be all means- be a jerk. The ghosts of Halloween will curse you and karma shall return with a vengeance.