My mother contacted me earlier today with some sad news. Her little dog passed away overnight. She was pretty broken up by the loss. Jodie had been a big part of her life for six years now.
Jodie was a good companion for my mother. This doggo was the reason my mom would go out for walks and get fresh air. My mother was telling me how people on the beach and in her neighborhood knew Jodie and loved the cute little fluff ball. Hopefully losing Jodie won’t stop my mom from getting fresh air and seeing neighbors.
Jodie would sit on my mother’s lap daily as well. Periodically, Jodie would bark, and my mom would tell her to “shush” but it was still nice for my mom to talk and pet her.
My mother is not looking to replace Jodie at this time. Being that my mom is 81- caring for a small animal is not in the cards anymore. I know that Jodie will be missed and I feel bad for my mother’s loss.
Losing a pet can be as difficult as losing a family member. It’s not a pleasant feeling.
Sometimes convenience is the deciding factor when it comes to eating. However, when you are willing to try and make a meal from scratch, you can be very pleased with yourself.
The other day, my 18 year old and I made ravioli from scratch. They made the pasta dough, I prepared the meat filling. Then we made large raviolis and boiled them for dinner. We even had some leftover dough so my wife made some with cheese filling and we made some linguine. Sure, we could have bought a can of Chef Boyardee, but these tasted far superior.
For the second week in a row, my wife has made us fresh pizza dough for our Saturday night dinner. She doubled the recipe this time around. So I made three pizzas and some cheesy bread. It was delicious again! By far the best pizza we have made to date. Using leftover pulled pork and barbecue sauce was a good way to go.
Even though we could have order a pizza and get it delivered- it is far more satisfying to make it ourselves. Taking out the convenience factors and laziness changes how we enjoy our meals. Working together, talking, singing and joking creates a cooperative experience.
Do you make meals at home with the help of family? Any “easy” meals that you’d rather make instead of choosing conveniently packaged or delivered food?
Let me know in the comments. I love getting inspiration from others!
The weather has been all sorts of wonky these past few days. We have had rain, hail, snow, sleet and warm sunshine. It’s that last one that I enjoy.
The sun has given my wife and I some much needed time outdoors. We have gone on walks numerous times- my wife especially likes to go for walks and often goes out by herself. Last week we also took some time to work on our garden. We have even enjoyed just sitting out on the back decks to enjoy the views.
The one thing that both of us are looking forward to is the pool opening again. We are in the process of planning some summer parties. But first will be to make some reprises, clean the backyard, and stain the deck and fence. All of that requires nicer weather to last more regularly.
I’m sure that spring will get hotter and give us more sunshiny days.
Yesterday I made my way to the United States after my night shift. I got some cheap gas, cheap milk and some cheap yarn. A lot of cheap yarn! It was on sale.
I bought 53 skeins of yarn. I knew I was going to buy that much, so I went prepared with a large clear garbage bag. When I rolled up to the cashier, she was rather surprised at how much yarn I was buying. Even better was the border crossing guard on my way home.
Coming back to Canada over land, they ask a lot of questions. You also need to declare what you are bringing across. He asked what I was bring back and the value of the goods.
“I have $265 coming back. I bought milk, cheese, some frozen food, and yarn.”
His response was perfect- “You can never have too much yarn.” Best part is that he didn’t even check to see exactly how much yarn I was bringing back.
Now to make some more rugs! Taking two weeks off has made me antsy and I need my creative juices flowing once more.
My son wanted to make a rug for his speed skating coach since she was going to be leaving at the end of the season. He wanted to make something unique that he knew she would like. He found out her favorite anime film- “Princess Mononoke” and made a rug based on the mask the main character wears.
From start to finish, my son did all the work. He drew out the image, used the tufting gun to fill in the colours, and then did all the tedious trimming to finish it off. I guided him along in the process, offering advice, but he did all the work. He took a few weeks to get it done, where as I try and finish in a couple of days. However long the process- the results were impressive.
He gave the rug to his coach last night at the end of season dinner. He was really proud of the rug; his coach was happy and delighted that he had made it for her.
Perhaps my son will make more rugs as time goes on. For now, he’s really happy with what he has made. I’m proud of the hard work he put in to finalize the product.
Even though I enjoy a ton of foods that are probably not good for me, I do try and eat healthy foods from time to time. It’s not always processed food and convenience that fills my belly.
I do enjoy making meals for the family. The issue is how long it takes. I have a tough time setting aside hours for meal preparation and clean up. But that’s okay. Some days you don’t need to go all out to eat healthy. Sometimes a piece of fruit or vegetable can be a good snack.
Today I had half a grapefruit as a snack. It was supremely sour, so I added half a teaspoon of sugar to sweeten it. It was a delicious and refreshing treat for a sunny afternoon. I honestly cannot remember the last time I ate a grapefruit. I forget how good fruit is. The issue is we buy fresh fruit and vegetables- enjoy them for a bit and slowly forget about them. Leading to tossing them out and then deciding not to buy them again for ages.
This summer, my wife has planned a garden again. We will be in an abundance of peppers, tomatoes and beans. Remembering to continue enjoyment of those is going to be the challenge. Not buying processed food is also in the plan for healthier eating.
I enjoy a lot of puzzle games. I find they keep me sharp- mentally. Long ago, I would do crossword puzzles. Usually the ones out of the newspaper. I found I could complete them about 90% of the time. I am onto different games that I generally do daily at some point. Here are my top three:
I love a good word search style game. Specifically ones with jumbled letters and you make as many words as possible. When my wife and I first met, we played a lot of Yahoo Games online. Find a copy of it here: Text Twist 2. But I also play Whirly Word as an easier version (shown above).
Sudoku is my go-to when I, uh, um, sit on the throne. My rounds last anywhere from 3 minutes to 10 minutes depending on the difficulty of the poop of the game. This is a classic that everyone knows.
My current favorite is Sumplete. This was recently created by AI and is comparable to doing Soduko. Today’s puzzle challenge I completed in 51 seconds. Not my best time, but I do average around the one minute mark. There are also other variations of the puzzle from a 3×3 grid to 9×9. Find the game here: Sumplete.
For my wife and I- daffodils mark the start of spring. In fact today at 2:24pm is the Spring Equinox. I am excited for this season to begin. We even had a small preview this past weekend of beautiful weather.
Before we left for Calgary, our daffodils had begun to sprout up in our gardens. They hadn’t bloomed yet and we were eager to enjoy their bright petals upon our return home a week later.
The daffodils did not disappoint. The bright yellow pop of colour brought my wife and I much joy seeing them around our home. Knowing they don’t last long, does upset me. However, we have a variety of other plants that show up and blossom throughout spring, summer and fall.
So this past weekend, my wife and I took advantage of the warm sunny weather and cleaned up the gardens around our home. We cleared out old, dead growth, leaves, and the fluffed the soil. We also transplanted some plants into new locations that we had discussed last year. Our home is beginning to look pretty post-winter.
We cannot wait for more flowers to start popping up! Bring it on Spring!
Last week, on my birthday, I went to buy some records. One of the records that was purchased, my son asked if I would split the cost with him. I happily obliged. You see, in 1983 I received a record for my 7th birthday. That record was “The Story of Tron” with music and dialogue from the motion picture. I listened to it repeatedly. I love the film and the idea behind Tron.
The record my son wanted to buy was from the sequel “Tron Legacy”. Of course I couldn’t say no. At the cashier, he said, “Don’t worry dad- I got this” so I didn’t have to pay for part of the record. Funny thing is he had no idea until today that I had been gifted the other Tron album for a childhood birthday.
I find it interesting that 40 years later I was going to be in possession of another Tron album. Albeit, our son is wanting to keep them in his room. He has somehow managed to become the keeper of our movies and movie memorabilia. The one thing I asked was that he play the album on my new record player as it has a better quality needle and will protect the vinyl over time compared to a more inexpensive record player.
I can’t wait to hear the album. I’m waiting until my son wants to unwrap it.
You know, it almost feels as if this record isn’t for me after all…
I want to take the time today to express gratitude to those who gave me birthday gifts this year. Even as I approach 50 and I can pretty much buy whatever I want- there are gifts that are given to me that prove that people know me quite well.
I did buy myself a record player, and hit up some vinyl stores in Calgary. This was a gift to myself, but my wife approved the purchase in advance knowing how much I wanted a new record player. This one has Bluetooth technology and I took the afternoon on Friday to enjoy some music. There’s something nostalgic and wonderful when you hear a crackle of old records through the speakers.
My middle child re-gifted back to me my “Deathnote” notebook. Only this time, they had taken it to Fan Expo and had the voice actors of three of the characters autograph the inside it. That was awesome and humorous if you know what the anime/manga series is about.
Our youngest gave me some artwork from Akira. A beautiful print that I want to get framed and hung up. This was one of the first anime films I ever saw which blew my mind. Prior to this film, I had seen a few different series, but this one holds a place in my heart.
A last minute gift that was given to me from the friend we were staying with- was right up my alley. We had been talking and he mentioned he had copies of the original Star Wars trilogy in high resolution. Unaltered by Lucas- taken from original film and captured in almost 4k format. As if watching the films for the first time in the theater back in the 70’s and 80’s. I am saving watching these for Star Wars Day later this year.
It was a good birthday for gift receiving. Thank you again to everyone who reached out to me wishing me a happy birthday.
My wife went to Kamloops a couple weeks ago for our son’s speed skating. Last week we drove to and from Calgary in the same vehicle. Rogue One was filthy! It was time for a hand wash after these journeys through the mountains and snow.
Our son washed the car as a “payment” (read as torture) for driving him to these competitions. A whole lot of “why?” was asked as well as “it’s clean” was also stated during the process. He was not too happy with me telling him that he needed to touch up a few spots. He also didn’t agree to the idea that Armor All on the plastic and windex for the windows was part of the cleaning process. But he did it in the end.
I don’t have the heart to tell him quite yet that he also has to do the interior vacuuming, windows and Armor All. Let’s wait to mention it for tomorrow.
Yesterday was my 47th Birthday. Normally I like to do something for others on my birthday- like throwing a party or going to hang out somewhere. This birthday was a bit different as I was out of town hanging out in Calgary. Throughout my day I received calls, text messages, Facebook notifications, and even a FaceTime call from my 18 year old. It was great to feel so much love from everyone!
My day began with a walk back to Monki’s for breakfast like I had done the day prior. This time my son Theory came along. Our host for the week, Keith, joined us as well. After breakfast we walked into two record stores and spent an obscene amount of time looking through old vintage vinyl picking out a few gems. It was so difficult to do as there was walls upon walls of records to look through. Heading back, I spotted an old “Speakers Corner” booth from the 90’s hanging out on the street. That was a crazy flashback to MuchMusic in Canada from decades ago.
Later in the evening we went to a restaurant called “The Strip Joint”. Walking in looked like a 90’s neon strip club. But the smell of chicken strips was mouthwatering. We tried a variety of different strips and enjoyed them tremendously. I was impressed at the marketing and aesthetic of the place. They really went all out.
It was a pretty calm birthday to say the least. I enjoyed the retro sensations of shopping for music, seeing the Speakers Corner and taking my son to the Strip Joint. All of it took me back to the 80’s and 90’s of my youth.
It was my last day of being forty six years old. So I decided to go out and treat myself a little bit. Nothing too crazy- just a bit of pampering I wanted to do for me.
I started my day by heading out for brunch by myself. I went to a place called Monki’s. It was just up the road from where we are staying. It also has a collection of artwork on the walls that our friend has made. My brunch was called “Elvis French Toast”. It was a frangelico cream cheese stuffed french toast with peanut butter, carmelized cinnamon bananas, white chocolate & fried bacon. So amazing!
After that I went to “The Best of Seven Barbers” in downtown Calgary. Another friend of ours works there and so I decided to get a haircut from him. Being that this was going to be a more fancier haircut, I splurged and got a scalp massage and the warm face towel. We had a good conversation discussing life and what has happened since we last saw one another about five years ago. I had asked him for my hair to be cut as short as possible so it would last until August, when I would be returning to Calgary and see him once more.
After my haircut, I picked up a free piece of apple pie to celebrate Pi Day (3.14). Then later went for another pie with my wife, albeit this time at McDonald’s. Heck, I even somehow managed to get two free cups of coffee from two different places. Not to mention that a ball python crawled all over my arms before I went to bed. That was an experience that I am not accustomed to since we only have a dog back home who says “good night” and snuggles very differently than a snake.
All-in-all it was a good day to end my forty sixth year and prepare for my forty seventh.
Before we left for Calgary, a coworker of mine recommended a restaurant in Banff to eat at- should we decide to venture out. Naturally it piqued my curiosity, so I looked it up. Turns out that The Grizzly House serves exotic meats and fondue. Heck yes I was going to go there! This was my early birthday dinner and celebration of our son’s successful weekend.
Upon entering the restaurant you feel like it was trapped in the early seventies. The soundtrack of 70’s and disco music being played throughout added to the atmosphere. Besides unique decor, the history of the restaurant was a social gathering where you could connect with strangers by calling their table number. A swingers restaurant that serves fondue and exotic meat? Let’s see what’s up with the food…
We chose to go with a four course meal. Our meal began with a soup or salad. My wife had the chicken tortellini soup while I went with the salad and house dressing. Excellent way to get the tastebuds excited. Then a cheese fondue. The hostess recommended tossing in the roasted garlic inside the cheese and it was next level.
Next came out the hot stone for us to cook our meats and a variety of dipping sauces. We sampled kangaroo, yak, yellowfin tuna, frog leg, alligator, buffalo and venison. Each unique in texture and flavor. The sauces equally as tasty. To end the meal we had a chocolate fondue with fresh fruit to dip.
The tastes were incredible throughout the meal. The place is a bit more pricey than I’m normally comfortable with, but for the experience to try new meat, well worth it.
And we never called any other tables. Experimenting with food was enough for this trip to the restaurant.
The last day of skating began with a warm up. As Theory hit the ice, the Star Wars theme was being played, followed by Highway to the Danger Zone. It was a great soundtrack to get him pumped!
He skated so well this weekend. All five of his races he achieved personal bests. One race he shaved off 3.5 seconds! His goal was only half a second- it may not seem like much, but that is huge in the growth of speed skating!
Even though he kept beating his own times, he was unable to qualify for next weekend’s competition. However, the coach for Calgary speed skating has invited him to come out this week for practices. This is a great opportunity for our son to get a bit more ice time before we head home. It also helps that he is showing so much growth that other coaches are wanting to get to know him.
As a celebration for all of his accomplishments, we joined some other skaters, parents and the travel coach for some milkshakes. These were the best shakes I have ever had! (Peter’s Drive-In if you are in Alberta) Kind of odd to enjoy a milkshake outdoors in -8°C weather, but it was a fun way to wrap up the competition!
Since Saturday was only a half day of skating, we took advantage of having an afternoon to enjoy. Right after skating we went to the outlet mall to buy some running shoes for our son to use in his training. That was uneventful, but necessary. Afterwards came the fun!
We took the late afternoon as a time to unwind. The friends we are staying with suggested a place called Revival Brewcade. A brewery with pinball and retro arcade games. The prices were completely reasonable and I ended up playing Godzilla Pinball for most of the afternoon.
Our son has never really played pinball before. I hadn’t thought about it, but the gameplay is quite different from video games. He was asking tons of questions and also looked up scoring tips online- specifically for Godzilla as he wanted to beat my score. What’s neat about some of the newer Stern Pinball is the fact that they can connect online and track your progress and scores. I set up an account and achieved almost 42 million on my first game. My son’s highest score was 12 million. I guess pinball is my thing still!
Afterwards, when we returned to the house, our friend served us a variety of teas. We sampled about 3-4 different ones. Theory was willing to try them as well and we discussed what each tea flavour brought to our mind. The strongest tea we tried was lapsang sough. A very Smokey flavour, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.
Right before bed, my son attempted to challenge our friend to some Beat Saber on the Oculus. He was fairly cocky going into the challenge, but was soon destroyed by our friend. She plays quite fiercely and competitively. My wife and I knew this, but it was more fun to watch our son get put in his place by the 40 year old!
All in all a good Saturday afternoon. I really enjoyed the fun and competitions. Now for the final day of our son’s speed skating competition!
Yesterday afternoon, my wife and I went for a thirty minute walk around Inglewood (a neighborhood in Calgary). Inglewood is a hub of culture, entertainment, and commerce- showcasing unique stores filled with vintage articles ranging from clothing to furniture to vinyl. The homes and shops are of eclectic styles in unmatchable designs. Filled with modern and traditional architecture and everything in between.
We braved the chilly atmosphere as we walked around. Coming from Surrey BC the other day, it’s easy to forget that the rest of our country is still experiencing winter. My wife and I bundled up, but the -16°C was felt on our exposed skin and eyes. Did you know that frozen snowflakes feel like tiny razor blades against your eyeballs? What we did see of the area we wandered was beautiful. I only took a couple of photos because my hands got cold fast when holding my phone out.
When we returned to our friend’s home, we ordered some amazing Chicago Deep Dish Pizzas. It has been years since I have had such an amazing pizza. It was warm and filling- exactly what we needed after a brisk walk.
So far, Calgary in the winter isn’t that bad. The biggest challenge I have discovered is Google Maps- every time I enter our journey to and from the Oval- it gives me a different route. I have taken half a dozen variations to get where I’m going. Perhaps it’s to avoid traffic congestion, or maybe Google just doesn’t like me. But I swear we have gone around Calgary in both directions and through Calgary– all have taken the same amount of time.
I guess that’s part of the charm of exploring a different city. Just finding new and exciting places and exploring what there is to offer.
This weekend is a chance for our son to compete in the Long Track Grand Prix Canada Cup. This entire season he has been training harder than ever and showing vast improvement. I’m hoping he comes away with a few more personal best times this weekend.
We made the trek to the Calgary Oval, with a realization that it’s still winter out there! This morning was surprisingly cold as my son and I made our way to the Olympic Oval in Calgary. Go figure that it’s cold when our son does a winter sport on ice…
The inside of the arena is vast and open. The audience can get good views of the start and finish of the races. Along the way, we have the opportunity to watch the big screen as the skaters round the backside.
I’m happy to be here in person for once. There is still a live feed on YouTube that I have shared with family members. With a total of five races over the course of three days, sometimes it’s hard to justify traveling with him. But as a parent, I’m extremely proud and want to be as supportive of all of our children’s endeavors.
Best of luck this weekend Theory! We are rooting for you!
Today my wife, son and I were driving from our home to Calgary. We left bright and early at 5am in order to get a head start on our journey. The road trip takes us through the Rocky Mountains, which is always scenic and beautiful.
Just outside Revelstoke we got stopped along the highway. Turns out they were doing controlled avalanche explosions. We ended up being held up for about an hour. During which time we wandered around getting some pictures as loud BOOMS could be heard off in the distance.
Periodically a helicopter would pass over our heads and out on the mountainside we could see small puffs of snow and smoke from where the explosions were taking place.
At least it was a beautiful sunny day while we waited. We even talked with people who were also stopped. Everyone was kind and smiley. It made for a pleasant wait, until the road opened up- then it was off to the races to make up for lost time!
Sometimes when I try and fall asleep in bed, I have a tendency to shake my left foot. More like I shimmy it in a strange circular fashion. Other times I wave my foot in a seesaw motion- back and forth. I do this unconsciously and then stop myself when I notice I’m doing it.
Then I hold myself extremely still and that’s when I fall asleep. Shaking my foot is like my body wanting to shake out all my energy first. It’s a habit I have had forever. I know this routine has irritated my wife over the years when she is wanting to fall asleep.
As I mentioned- once I notice I’m doing it, I like to make sure that I’m in a comfortable position and refuse to move again. I hold still until I eventually fall asleep. In all honesty it doesn’t take me long. I love that aspect of who I am. The ability to sleep at will.
As spring quickly approaches, nature is already giving glimpses of things to come.
Outside in our front garden you can see the start of the daffodils coming up through the earth. In a short time they will blossom and bloom a vibrant yellow. Their showcase will only last a short time, but I view it as the start of spring and a precursor to the future flowers that shall grow. Their beauty always makes me smile.
Inside of our home, my wife has begun her yearly planting. Beans, peppers, lettuce, etc have been germinating in small trays under grow lights at our window sill.
This year, my wife has chosen to keep them in our bedroom so she can watch their growth. Because I close our blinds for my sleep after a night shift, her grow light remains on during this time. This set of plants will soon be moved to another pot and the next set shall be planted. This will allow for a various growth of vegetables throughout the summer, keeping us well fed with freshness at our fingertips.
Spring is welcome to show up at any time now. Let the longer sunshiny days commence and a garden to grow!
January and February flew by already. We are now into March. Around here we had some whacky weather happen leading up to this month.
This morning’s skyline was absolutely stunning as the sun came up. As I was driving my son to school, I saw numerous people taking pictures of the colours in the clouds. I was just enjoying living in the moment (and paying attention to the roads).
This afternoon, I ate my lunch and stared out our back window watching the clouds sail by. I like that there was a mix of dark and light clouds leading off into the horizon. Soon spring will be upon us and life will begin to spread some colourful vegetation. Winter will be a distant memory and the summer sun will be beating down upon us in no time.
Spring is that beautiful transition from winter to summer. It’s one of my favorite four seasons. Each season has a sense of wonder and beauty. I enjoy nature’s creativeness immensely.
This week I made my largest rug yet. I was making it as a gift to some friends who are opening up their home to us over spring break. I asked what sort of rug they would like and some colour palettes.
They sent me a picture of the room they would like the rug in. Kind of a jungle them with various shades of green. So I took inspiration from the artwork on the wall as the colour scheme I would use.
I also asked if I could design the rug, which they seemed happy about. So I used a leaf from a plant at work as my inspiration to start. I photographed it and drew it out on the monks cloth. I chose to have a few slots cut out, but wanted more abstract design’s throughout.
At almost five feet long, this rug used quite a lot of yarn. I now have a dwindling supply of green yarns. It also weighs in at six and a half pounds! That’s a heavy boy. I’m really excited with how the rug turned out. I sent a picture to our friends and they also seem ecstatic about it. I cannot wait to bring it to them later this week.
I had noticed that our tv in the basement was a bit quiet. I didn’t want to spend money on a sound bar. So this weekend I decided to pull our home theater stereo out of the attic and set it up.
Wiring the speakers was a bit of a challenge. Lucky for me, above the fireplace was hollow, so wires were easy to string in the wall. The only downside was the wood that was blocking me from running the wires below. I bought a 16” long drill bit and was able to slide it through the hole in the wall. I was surprised at how easy it was to run all those wires.
Now I have speakers set up on the wall around the tv. All that I have left is to run wires for the surround speakers. I’ll probably do that later in the spring. Mostly because I will have to remove the baseboards and then run the wire up the walls. That will probably take me a few hours to complete. For now the speakers that are for the back of the room are sitting beside the fireplace.
The last thing left to do is make sure of the sound quality. Probably watch some tv or a movie. Then try out music.
Today we had our piano tuned up. We kind of neglected doing it for a couple of years. Which was not good. But the tune up went well- just took a bit longer than it should have. At least no repairs were required.
Now that the piano is sounding better, hopefully we will hear it played again. I know that our kids periodically “tickle the ivories”. When their friends come over, many of them can play piano, and enjoy sitting down to play.
This will be nice to have it all sounding good once more. Now to just keep up with the tuning twice a year!