Everyone I know has some sort of tradition they do around the holidays. This year, being what it is, may have adjusted or outright changed those traditions. We have a few that begin this afternoon. But first things first- we had a couple of other events that aren’t as exciting.
A big house cleaning is one of them. Dusting, floors, windows, even the skylight needs to get a good ol’ sparkle before we do anything else. The family loves to do that. *eyeroll*
Next is the sad realization that I need to do a quick shopping run for last minute items. A Baguette is on my list because the loaf I tried to bake this morning was a pretty good failure. I guess we have some bread lightsabers to swing around…
As well, because of the snowstorm on Monday our daughter’s driving lesson got moved to midday today. Which was totally fine since I was able to make my errands completed during her lesson.
So even though we have traditions that we will adhere to this afternoon/evening, our day was kind of like any other day. My wish is for all of you readers out there who do celebrate, to enjoy your Christmas Eve! No matter what it may bring.
After the chaotic snow storm on Monday, we did get power back on early than anticipated. That was a good sign. Until we began checking the yard for branches.
The snow and ice decimated our yard. After almost four hours of cleaning up the carnage, I’m out property was beginning to look better. It was a group effort, and I really thank the kids for all they did over the past few days.
I climbed up on the roof after to assess what the trees had done. There were two large branches above our living room, but luckily no damage to the roof. On the other side, above my wife’s studio was a different story. A three foot branch speared into the roof.
Quite the sizable hole remained. It seemed much larger than the one from a couple years ago- check out Roof repair if you want to see that damage. My son offered to help with this repair, so I took the opportunity to show him what to do and explained why it needed to be done that way.
Now we wait and see how the repair holds up. The last time was great- no leaks. We also need to wait for some of this snow and ice to melt so we can really clean up the yard. But we are all cold and tired. Time to relax and get ready for Christmas Eve Eve. Or Festivus if you wish.
Yesterday was a heavy dumping of snow that came out of nowhere. As beautiful as it is, it caused havoc and carnage at our home.
As our kids were out front playing (and sort of shoveling the driveway) a large branch fell from one of our trees. It came down and took out the power line to our house from the street. At this point, my wife told our teenagers to come inside. Which was a good idea as more large branches throughout our yard, and neighbourhood, continued to snap off and fall.
The carnage in my yard is pretty extensive. Besides the thuds onto the roof (which I will need to inspect for damage just in case) a massive branch went through our storage shelter. Now there is a large hole which I will need to repair, or at least cover, once I remove the branches. It also looks like we may lose our rhododendron bush and some boxwoods in our front yard. I haven’t even ventured out to the backyard yet.
As beautiful as our home and property is, moments like this making it frustrating to live where we do. And with Hydro telling us we may not get power until Christmas Eve- going days without power is difficult to say the least. It means we have no way to cook or use water (our well has an electric pump). The generator we own will give us enough power to light some lamps and a couple of space heaters. So at least our dining room and family room will be cozy.
With Covid precautions in place, we also don’t feel comfortable going to visit friends or family. I guess that means that we are “off grid” for the time being in hopes to become civilized once more for Christmas.
Today, my family celebrates the Winter Solstice. In the past we have had a gathering of friends, food and fun. This year is a more relaxed vibe of just the family and food. But there is a special event happening in our sky today.
To quite my Google Doodle search: “December 21 marks the winter solstice in the Northern Hemisphere, but in 2020 the longest night of the year is also going to be a witness to an incredible astronomic event known as the “great conjunction”. … This rare double planet sighting–or “Great Conjunction”–can be viewed from anywhere around the globe.”
That’s pretty cool- seeing Jupiter and Saturn line up. This is type of moment that I hope to witness since it only occurs about every 400 years. Those with a clear sky should be able to witness this with a pair of binoculars or telescope. I look forward to seeing the photos online in the next day or two.
Let me know in the comments if you see the event or have plans to bear witness to this rare occasion.
We have a large home and three vehicles. But we are without a garage to park our vehicles. We have a good sized U shaped driveway. I will often park right in front of our home at the apex of the driveway.
Our daughter generally parks on the side of our home. Sometimes she will park in the driveway behind my car. But it’s my wife who gets the carport. Yet the back end of her car is always hanging out. Our carport isn’t the right size for a vehicle.
Since my wife doesn’t drive as much as myself or even our daughter, she tends to keep her car parked. In fact, she drove only about 4000km last year. This is good for keeping the mileage down. And since she loves her car and wants to keep it for many more years, I decided to get her a car cover and really protect it.
In my next home, I want a two car garage. I love my car, but I also use it as a daily commuter. No point in throwing a cover on it. It would be nice to store it away every night just to have it clean and warm to start my day.
As I mentioned previously in Shattered Memories, we have numerous trees. One of which has the ornaments the kids have made over the years. We never really had a topper for it. Putting a Santa hat or a top hat on it to try and finish it.
This year, I 3D printed a new topper. It was a fun one based on my favorite fandom- Star Wars. I decided to paint it in traditional Christmas colours- red and green with a hint of dark gold.
Our middle daughter had been waiting for over a week to put the tree topper up. Each one of our kids gets to put the topper on a tree. We rotate which tree every year. The kids’ tree was hers this year.
Every year, Williams Park in Langley puts on a Christmas light display. This is the 30th year. Driving through the park is our yearly tradition. We try and view it the weekend before Christmas.
For an event that is done by volunteers, it is laid out almost the same every year. Which is great because I like that I can count on it being the same. It brings a familiarity to the holidays.
Because Covid restrictions have cancelled large gatherings- the park had more vehicles arrive last week than it could handle. So for us to see it this week, we signed up online for a time slot. I’m glad we did because the spaces are all taken for this final weekend of lights.
This isn’t one of those shows where you pay an exorbitant amount of money for an Instagramable experience; this is all done by volunteers and donated lights. At the end of the drive through the park, we donated some money- as we do every year.
Afterwards, we drive around the town and look for beautiful displays that people put up. It’s always a great family bonding time as we listen to Christmas songs and share stories of the past.
Yet another original Star Wars actor has passed away. Today was Jeremy Bulloch- the original actor who played Boba Fett.
Back in 2012 I had the honor of meeting him at the Fan Expo in Vancouver. It was one of the local convention shows that my wife had a booth at selling her handmade hats. (Need a winter hat? Check out Ningen Headwear) I also remember it clearly because it was on a Sunday and the celebrities were literally across from our table looking bored.
So I took my six year old son over to meet a few celebrities. First we met the original Batman and Robin- Adam West and Burt Ward. Those two were sitting together and had a riot talking to my son about being superheroes. After about ten minutes of talking to Batman, we side stepped to talk with Mr. Bulloch.
My son’s reaction was to tell him how we had just met Batman and Robin. Jeremy’s reaction was perfect. The two of them talked about the old Batman show and how bad guys never win. My son knew who Boba Fett was, it’s not like I hadn’t instilled the love of Star Wars at a young age. But it really is different when you never see his face (compared to West or Ward).
Like I said, all three of these gentlemen interacted with nothing but kindness to my young boy. That truly made them heroes in my eyes that day. No fan theories or questions about getting into a costume or what it was like to work with other actors. Just a couple old guys playing along with a kid that they didn’t even know.
But those few minutes with Jeremy Bulloch were as impactful in our lives as Boba Fett’s original five minutes on screen. For that, I wish to say thank you sir.
Today I was driving with my daughter and began to sing a song from my childhood. I’m not talking about a song from the 70’s or 80’s- I’m talking about a song I learned in my very early years of elementary school.
“Nobody likes me. Everybody hates me…”
Seriously. This song was taught to me as a child in grade one at a Catholic school. But that’s not what astonished me. What surprised me was that None of my kids or my wife had ever even heard this song.
Why was I taught such a depressing song about oneself? “Everybody hates me.” Honestly, reading the song lyrics make me think of how a person is so hated that they want to be dead and eat worms. Crazy.
But there it is. In the deep recesses of my memory. It blurted its way out nearly forty years later. My teens think I’m weird for learning the song and for even singing it randomly.
Did anyone else out there learn this song? Or any other strange songs that really may not be good for molding young minds that haunt you from time to time? I’m not talking Baby Shark or Barney the Dinosaur style.
Our home has been feeling colder than usual this year. No matter what I do to warm up, it never seems to be enough. I’m not alone either. I know my wife is cold at times as well. That’s because she shares her frigidness with me.
I swear that when I go to bed at the same time as her, she decides that her cold extremities need to touch the warm parts of my body. Her feet find my lower back or rub my calves the wrong way.
And then there are what I have dubbed over these past few years- her “Ice mittens”. Those hands of verglas that caress me into convulsions of terror. My squirms and shrieks only cause her to enjoy the torture she inflicts upon me. To say she is “cold hearted” is a lie. She is cold bodied.
It’s been going on for years. Somehow I manage to warm her up. It must be from the vibration of my shivering that causes friction to bring warmth to our bed.
I follow some very talented artists on Instagram. I am thoroughly impressed by how creative people can be. I also love to share these artists with others.
Sharing a link is one way to show love. But stealing a “Screenshot” of the images- that makes me feel guilty. It’s one thing to copy and paste a meme, but hours of hard work by an artist- that doesn’t seem right to share without permissions.
So in this day and age- how can you “own” digital art? One of the artists I follow- Beeple – sold some amazing pieces of digital art this weekend. And made hundreds of thousands of dollars doing it. Crazy to think that selling the digital signature of the original piece is a way to celebrate visual art. But here we are- the digital age.
This is the note that was shared on Instagram- a reminder that people can still be humbled by the outpouring of love for their art. I also appreciate his devotion to creating art every day. New art daily for 13 years. To me, that is impressive. Perhaps one day I can afford to purchase one of his images and own the digital signature of it. But until I can afford to drop six figures on something that isn’t tactical and tangible- I shall just enjoy his works of crazy ass art.
The home stretch is within sight everyone! Only a dozen days remaining until Christmas. Normally I’m out spending money frivolously about this time. Snatching up items that I think would help to fill out the gift piles of my wife and family. Most of those gifts just end up tossed in a drawer or the back of a closet before becoming landfill waste. Not this year however.
This year I am doing my part and staying home as much as possible. I feel as though I’ve already done my part in supporting local businesses and picked up some items a few weeks back. So staying home (when not at work) is also doing my part to keep myself and others healthy. No need to aimlessly wander the mall or stores trying to spend money that I don’t overly have to spend.
I don’t mind being at home during these final days of the year either. I get to enjoy some quality time with the family playing games and watching movies. Or just contemplating life as I stare at the decorations on our trees: Remembering when or where we picked up an ornament or two. And sometimes letting the lights catch my gaze until my vision becomes fuzzy and I feel warm inside.
It’s nice to just calm down and chill out. I forgot how wonderful it can be.
Today was a late afternoon of decorating our third tree as a family. We had Rudolph playing in the background as we do every year. My wife has been doing a fantastic job over the years of keeping each of their ornaments separated. This made the decorating so much easier. Especially since this tree hosts our keepsake ornaments.
Trying to get a good picture during the decorating is always difficult. Someone is always on the move or deciding they don’t want their picture taken. Or the obvious- back is turned because they are putting an ornament on the tree. But I was able to snag a few candid shots before our obligatory “Family Photo” in front of the tree.
As our children continue to grow, even now as our eldest is an adult, I wonder how many more days I have like today with them. I also know that our family dog, Lex, is getting up there in dog years. Capturing these moments is heartwarming. Sharing them with the world is a necessary evil. I love seeing other people showing their family time, and I hope that my friends also enjoy seeing our smiles.
So take care this December. And take lots of photos of your loved ones- including pets- to remind yourself that 2020 isn’t all bad. At least that’s the advice I’m giving myself this year.
Just the other day I was thinking how I miss going to the cinema for the blockbuster films. Marvel and Star Wars dominated my viewing experience in the years past. With Covid precautions in place- most mainstream releases were put on hiatus or simply went straight to a digital release. But not many came from the House of Mouse.
Yesterday came some big announcements. Read about Star Wars Here in case you missed it. The Star Wars universe is huge with endless possibilities to branch out in many directions. I for one enjoy the live action shows; my kids also enjoy the animated shows.
And then there is the next Phase in Marvel you can read about Here. I know of many of the comic book ideas and characters, but I never really read any of the stories.
My excitement level is increasing and there are plenty of shows to look forward to. All of these shows/movies shall be arriving over the next couple of years. It looks like it will be at a pace to keep most consumers wanting more.
What are your thoughts on Disney’s announcement yesterday?
We decorate three Christmas trees in our home every year. We always start with a “Children’s Tree” and a “Traditional Tree” in our main living space. Usually one on either side of our dining room. Every year we enjoy dancing around to Yule Be Wiggling while we decorate. This is the first year that I played just the music instead of the movie.
Besides the ornaments that our children have made over the years, there are a couple of ones that I have kept from my youth. There are a couple of pictures from 1979/1980 in a paper craft style ornament I made back in preschool/kindergarten.
We always do these trees before we decorate our “Special Tree”. That’s because we are bound to break at least one ornament in the process. Every year it seems that someone new breaks one. This year was our son who knocked an ornament off.
Breaking an ornament is an unfortunate tradition we have in our home. But it’s still a tradition- just like decorating the trees. No one gets hurt or angry, we just accept that a shattered bauble is bound to happen.
Not so positive feeling today. So don’t bother to read this if you expect some fun filled uplifting story from Castle Havelka. I’m feeling overwhelmed and under appreciated.
I’m over halfway through my current Staycation and I haven’t felt like I’ve done anything worthwhile for myself. It makes me frustrated and I want to just lash out at everyone. I feel like going out a grabbing some beer to wash away this frustration… And that sucks.
The start of my time off was emotionally rough. I sob cried during a hug from my oldest daughter, which felt uncomfortable enough. Showing that kind of vulnerability to my 18 year old made me feel like I broke a sacred pact. The kind of unwritten promise that says “Dad is the strong one, here to protect you.” Only not this time. This time I broke down.
Then came my wife’s birthday. Uneventful- the way she likes things. But her feelings of aging are the same fears that we all have. Getting old shouldn’t feel like losing our youth. it should feel as though we have gained wisdom and experiences. During these Covid times- I have become her sounding board. Allowing a lot of venting and emotions to come forth towards me.
Then there’s this Christmas thing. We have three trees set up- undecorated still. No Christmas movies have been watched yet. And the family hates that I want to listen to Christmas music in the home. I get a lot of groans and Bah Humbug feels when I try.
Undoubtedly it feels like I have wasted my time off by not doing anything for myself. My 3D printer needs a part and it won’t arrive until the end of the year, so my new hobby is on hiatus. I also don’t have my own space for this new hobby. Our spare room is the office where my wife works and oldest does her online classes. The studio is where my wife does her side business- Ningen Headwear– which is far busier in fall/winter because she sells fleece hats. So I get a two foot square space to set up my printer in our 4000 square foot home.
Escaping to my bed is all I have left. Sleeping in has only happened once and that was this morning. Until my wife woke me and had me get up to make her and my daughter ham and cheese omelettes. I even cleaned the kitchen afterwards since the two of them disappeared to do their own thing after brunch was over. Now I’m crawling back into bed feeling like crud for having these thoughts of resentment and being trapped.
I know I’m not alone these days. Covid restrictions have made everyone feel constricted and trapped. There’s good intentions to be had, but sometimes feeling like crap is okay as well. Right? Just let me sleep away the rest of my time off so that I can just float through until my vacation is over. Or at least let me vent this one time without judgement.
2020 may be a lot of things to a lot of people. It has certainly been a unique journey. For my family and I- it has meant skyrocketing into the future.
My wife was already working for Shopify for a while before Covid restrictions came into play. She was working remotely and had a good handle on things like Zoom meetings and Google Docs. She was able to help out teenagers get used to the “new normal.”
This summer I got my first 3D printer. I have enjoyed printing a bunch of plastic stuff. All it takes is a file and a spool of filament to create something from almost nothing. It’s not just doing the printing, I’ve also enjoyed painting the items and adding mechanisms to create movement. Robotics and electronics have been brought back into my world after a near three decade hiatus.
This past weekend we entered a new level of futuristic lifestyles. For my wife’s birthday, I picked up an Oculus Quest 2 VR headset for her. Immersing oneself into the virtual worlds is mind boggling to say the least. From active games like Beat Saber to simply painting in a 3D world- this is possibly one of the greatest escapisms I have ever seen.
As the winter arrives and 2020 draws nearer to the end, I for one have enjoyed more of this year in captivity than I expected. We even adopted another dog- Maki who entered our lives right when we needed her to.
How do you feel about technology these days? Are we moving too fast, or too slow? Let me know in the comments.
Yesterday was filled with laughter, tears, and everything in between. My wife celebrated her 50th Birthday at home with her family. And it was the only way she knew she wanted to spend it.
Leading up to her milestone birthday wasn’t easy. Hitting fifty is a tough one. In fact, almost every decade milestone birthday is tough after age twenty. You get moments of regrets- like you haven’t accomplished everything you had hoped. But you also get moments of appreciation for what you have achieved in your life. The most uplifting is when you get moments of clarity when you realize this is exactly where you need and want to be.
My wife’s birthday started with breakfast in bed. The kids greeted her warmly and were excited for the next part.
Followed by a Fifty Clue scavenger hunt. This lead her all around the house. The last clue brought her to tears. It was hidden hidden behind a picture of her puppy- Chuppy. This was her best friend prior to me entering her life and creating a family.
Her final clue lead her to our theater room. Where we set up a pretend car- as a reminder to her fortieth birthday when we bought a Pathfinder. Hidden inside were “Brown Paper Packages tied up with string” as a clue to her forty fifth birthday when I made her a 45 record spacer from a “Sound of Music” LP (her favorite movie). Inside the unsuspecting boxes was an Oculus Quest 2 VR. This was my chance to bring the world to her since we are unable to travel and we really wanted to get away.
Finally we celebrated with a lunch that was filled with coffee and coffee cake (made by our oldest). For dinner we did go out for sushi at our favorite restaurant. That was short and sweet because we all wanted to watch one another play some VR.
All-in-all I’d say she had a birthday that was memorable.
Today marks 50 years. A celebration of my wife’s journey on this planet around the sun.
I’ve had the pleasure of knowing this amazing woman for a little over twenty years. I could regale my readers with all of the accomplishments she has achieved. Or the wondrous adventures she has been on. Instead, I am going to keep the fanfare to a minimum as she is not one who likes putting herself before others. Which has made her an astounding mother and wife.
Her happiness is my happiness. So today will be about her. From enjoying her favorite meals to listening to the music of her youth- today is Lee-Anne’s day.
I may not have been the first to lose this year. In fact, I was forth to lose in my household. But amongst friends- I need to let you know that I have lost already in 2020.
Last year I made it to December 10th. This year I lost five days earlier. Losing at Whamagedon sucks. But it means that for the rest of the month I don’t have to avoid it any longer.
I put on Christmas music throughout the house for breakfast. I stepped outside to move the cars in the driveway and then returned. My daughters and wife were all in the kitchen- staring at me. That’s when I heard it. A groan came over me. That was when the three of them accused me of setting it up to get them out. I showed my wife that I had blocked numerous versions of the song on Spotify. Looks like I missed one of them
Had I taken another two minutes outside, I’d have survived. But likely the three of them would think I had gotten them out on purpose. So it was probably better that I were to lose as well. In our family- my son is the soul victor (so far).
Are any of you still in? Or has Wham! hit you with their rendition of “Last Christmas”?
Let me know in the comments if and when you get knocked out.
It’s December- that means baking season is upon us!
Yesterday we had breakfast for dinner. My wife whipped together cinnamon roll pancake batter and a cream cheese icing. I cooked them up in our snowflake shaped frying pan. A perfect look and taste to get us sweetened for our next few rounds of baking.
This morning, my wife and I just finished our Costco run. That means we have five dozen eggs, an abundance of sugar, flour, chocolate chips, cocoa powder, and everything else we could possibly need to get started. Now to look at our list, check it twice and find out which cookies are tasty and nice! I cannot wait to fill our Christmas cookie jars and tins.
Are you baking for this holiday season? Any favorite recipes you am have? Please share them with me. I love to bake!
Spotify released their regular update of what you have been listening to for the year. Since this was my first year of using Spotify- it was interesting to see what my style was.
Even though I knew my choice in music is eclectic- having it backed up with evidence proves my musical taste is odd.
I knew before this Spotify list came out what my number one song was. “I Don’t Feel Like Dancing” is a great dance/disco/pop style of song. It ended up being one of my top five songs of the summer.
Even though that song was my number one song, I ended up having Gorillaz as my number one artist. I was also the top 1% of their listeners this year. One of my favorite songs was inductive of the feelings of coping through 2020:
“Calling the world from isolation ‘Cause right now, that’s the ball where we be chained And if you’re coming back to find me You’d better have good aim Shoot it true I need you in the picture That’s why I’m calling you (calling you)”
Watch the video here: Humility on YouTube. It’s a great song with vibrancy throughout. It also made me miss our yearly trip to California. Soon this Covid life will be in the past. But in the meantime, I’m going to see if I can keep enjoying 500 or more genres well into the next year.
What was your 2020 Wrapped? Share your playlist in the comments- I’d love to hear what you hear.
We adopted our newest member of the family back in October: Foster the Feelings. We gave her a name change that suited our family and would give her a new beginning. She adapted to it really quickly.
Yesterday we finally got her a tag with her new name– Maki. When my son and I were choosing the font, he pointed out one style that reminded him of our favorite sushi restaurant. And since we often call her “Maki Roll” it fit quite nicely. Now when she escapes our yard (she’s done this at least three times already) people can call us and complain return her.
While we were at the pet store getting the name tag- we also picked up an ugly Christmas sweater for her. This is the first dog I have ever had in my life that we have bought clothes for. I hate to say it, but she looks super cute. Time to get some other outfits for her- like a rain jacket.
She has become a significant part of all our lives. I enjoy the fact that her entire rump shakes with excitement when you come home. Or that she knows when to cuddle up to a person who is having a bad day. Maki is practically a support dog for us. She is a great dog and we are lucky to have her join our family.
Over the past week or so I have been in a lot of pain. I think stress has caused my joints and muscles to hurt more than usual. My hips hurt right at the socket where my legs meet. I am also experiencing lower back pain that is causing me to be virtually immobile. Plus my neck and shoulders are stiff as well. Ugh.
What I should do is try yoga or stretching exercises. Instead I just pop a couple of Advil every few hours in hopes that the pain subsides. I’m not a very active person these days, so I really should get on that. But it’s so much work… Going to bed and complaining is easier though, am I right?
Because of my height, I have always had back pain. I’ve also been nicknamed “Stretch” by those who are much shorter than me. (Some people called me “Tall Guy” as well.) I never found it offensive or irritating to get a name like that. But looking back, maybe I should’ve taken the advice and done more stretching.
Anyways, enough griping. Time for a cup of tea and a couple Advil. I’ll do stretching tomorrow. Or maybe the next day…
It’s Cyber Monday in the year 2020. Which is kind of like every other day this year. It feels as though we have been doing more online shopping than ever before. In fact, statistics are showing that the majority of us are doing more online shopping this year than previous years.
Because of all the extra shopping online, we have become very conscious about shipping. Paying for shipping feels like a kick in the face. Free shipping is a favorite, but also one or two day shipping is important. I don’t know why really. Whatever I’m ordering online, I clearly didn’t need that quickly. But hey, if Amazon says it’ll show up by 8pm the next day- why wouldn’t I choose that option?
I sometimes enjoy the surprise of “What’s in the box?” as a parcel shows up on our doorstep. Especially the packages that have taken longer than a few days to arrive. As Christmas nears, we have to be careful not to open these boxes in front of the kids.
I have no reason to do online shopping today. So I’m not likely to get caught up in buying something just for the sake of saving money on it. I save even more money just not buying something I didn’t need. I’m looking in your direction Air Fryer.
So before you complete that transaction today, take a moment and decide if you really needed to “Add to Cart” in the first place. If you’re like me, you’ll probably think about it briefly and question your choice, but then purchase it anyways because it’ll arrive in two days and have free shipping. Because it’s such a good deal.
On a serious note, remember to support small businesses through your online purchasing as well. These businesses can’t always offer free shipping because the volume they sell is no where near Amazon or Walmart. But the joy you give someone by buying one of their items is far greater than you could imagine.