Unplanned Meal Additions

I’ve already finished day two of my four day weekend. Most of my time has been spent driving around for the kids. The other majority has been playing with my 3D printer and the props I’ve been making.

During all of this, I have been finding the time to make some decent dinners. My wife and I have been doing our best to get back into meal planning now that there is a set schedule for school. It sounds easy, but it really isn’t. My days off means I am the master chef.

I’m pretty bad at including vegetables in the meals. I usually just plan the meat portion and a side of potatoes, rice or pasta. This week I was behaving myself and adding in more vegetables. Last night was roasted cabbage and carrots. Tonight was pesto and tomato chicken.

For whatever reason, I never think of what vegetables to add. Perhaps one day I’ll get better at at. Until then, it’s roast beef and potatoes for Friday nights dinner!

More Trains?

It was only a couple of days ago that I wrote about being a Foamer. It just so happens that we ended up having another unique Diesel engine arrive in our yard.

The paint scheme may not have been as exciting as the one from Central Maine & Quebec. But just for fun, I had one of our crews add the two of them together. Within a couple of days we will be sending the engines on their way. We would interchange them off to CP Rail for their crews to use.

When I first started at CN Rail, I had no idea how often the railroads interchanged engines with one another. Besides the two I most recently wrote about, I’ve been on engines from CN, CP, BNSF and SRY.. as well as a few others that only railroaders would be able to identify as from a foreign railroad.

It’s kind of fun to play with trains. Like being a kid again and just toying around on a much grander scale.

First Day Of Autumn 2020

By the time you read my blog today, it will officially be Autumn. I love the changes in seasons. Each season is exactly the right length.

Even though this year has felt like it has drawn on forever, we are entering the final quarter. The last hurdle to go until 2021. To me, autumn gets broken down into pieces. We have the first week of Fall, Thanksgiving, Halloween, then November leading us into December and the excitement of Christmas Holiday Season.

By the time the Winter Solstice hits, we will be looking back on this year as if it had lasted a decade. A lifetime of history making done in a single year. It’ll be a relief to look back on 2020 and have it all behind us.

What is your favorite season? Are you ready for 2021?

Playing 78’s

Today marks what would’ve been my father’s 78th birthday. Over the years I have not been too kind in sharing memories of him. This year I am going to do my best to share a couple of bittersweet experiences instead.

In the past I have gone to visit his grave and enjoyed a Molson Canadian beer in his honor. That was the beer of choice by my father. I remember the stale scent of Rothman’s cigarettes and beer emanating from his beard as I grew up. It was a very distinct odor on evenings and weekends that only my father possessed.

During the day, he would have the aroma of Halls Lozenges mixed in with the scent of Cigarettes. He always had a package in his car and would pop one in his mouth from time to time. They sat in the change holder near the car stereo. After unwrapping one of the square candies, he would bunch up the waxed paper into tight little balls while a song played on the radio. At the end of the song, he would place the tiny paper balls into the car’s ashtray. It was an odd habit, but one that was distinctly his.

I never knew my father to enjoy music the way I do. In September of 1981 he did buy a brand new stereo from Sears. Perhaps as a birthday gift to himself since he rarely wished to celebrate birthdays in group settings. The JVC LXI came in numerous large metallic framed pieces. A set of oversized 12” subwoofers, an amplifier, tape deck, radio and record player. I was with him when he purchased it from the local Sears in Edmonton. We brought it home and he set it up in the dining room on the china cabinet. Where it would remain until we moved.

I remember that once it was set up, he put on a record and I sat directly in front of one of the speakers to listen to the music. I was five at the time and just amazed at the magic behind how it worked. After a few hours, my father made me wear some headphones instead and turned off the speakers.

For the remaining few years in Edmonton, my mother would put on her “Highland records” and sing her Scottish songs. Occasionally ABBA would be put on the turntable (I think that’s where my love of disco originated). I was never allowed to touch the records in fear that I would scratch them. As well, my records were only permitted on my children’s plastic record player- not the high end one that my dad purchased.

Looking back on that purchase, I realized my father didn’t do it for himself. He did it for my mother… and in a way for me. I became entranced by music that wasn’t just learning my ABC’s. I fell in love with all genres and memorized numerous song lyrics as I grew up. The only music my father would listen to was the radio on his commute. No cassettes or records were ever played by him in our home.

Nowadays, in my home, music is always being played throughout the house. I set up speakers in every room, and we play music that keeps us all entertained. The family sometimes argues over what to listen to, because they don’t always want to listen to disco… but that’s okay. We all enjoy the fact that music brings us together.

Perhaps now my father listens to his collection of 78’s in the afterlife. Keeping his emotions to himself like he always did. His bits of sharing while he was alive was minimal, but effectual. I always thought he liked Elvis because of the records he owned, but I could be wrong.

That’s my story about my father and how he inadvertently created my love of music. Happy Birthday Dad.

Writer’s Block?

I’ve been very late in posting my daily musings. It seems that I have a bit of “Writer’s Block”. I still manage to produce something, but it’s not of a quality that I am necessarily proud of.

I want to blame the September weather. But it could also be the hazy smoke from the wildfires that is causing grey feelings. It’s not just the look of the outside that is affecting me. But also the air quality. The smoke is making my asthma act up causing me to be tired from a lack of oxygen.

I don’t know if anyone else locally is feeling the same. I’m not usually this “Blah” in September, but there it is. Making me less than motivated to accomplish anything. This too shall pass.

Public Speaking

I can talk to people one on one or in a small group. But when it comes to public speaking or conference calls- I have a tough time. I spend ages writing notes and rehearsing what to say. I still end up with loads of “uh” and “ums” being spoken.

Today I had to host a call. Something I haven’t really enjoyed in the past and do my best to avoid it. Normally I’ll interject in the conference calls just to remind people that I’m there. I don’t like having the spotlight shone on me.

But I hosted the call without argument or trying to pawn it off on someone else. I have learned a few tricks over the years in order to keep the flow going. One of my favorite things to do is open the call up to questions or comments and wait just long enough that the silence becomes uncomfortable that someone will eventually speak up. I try not to call out people directly, but I will do it if I know they have the answer.

At the end of the call, I was told I did an impressive job keeping on task and keeping it just the right length of time. The flow was steady and I felt good to have it behind me, even though I was nervous. I just hope they don’t ask me to run it again for a few months…

Visual Trickery

Ever see an image online that drives you nuts? Like you broke your brain or something. Today I saw an image that did it to me:

Obviously it’s a goat. But I had to second guess myself.

I’m really glad that the one annoying trend from the 90’s hasn’t come back around. Those blurry “Magic Eye” images. I used to get headaches trying to see the hidden pictures. I never could see the schooner.

You dumb bastard. It’s not a schooner… it’s a Sailboat.”

“A schooner IS a sailboat stupid head!”

I hope those “Magic Eye” pictures never return.

Mothra!

Over the past few days at my work in North Vancouver, we have seen an influx in moths. And they are everywhere.

At night, they take over the lamps and lights. During the day, the moths just hang out on everything white. My car often has a dozen of the little critters on it.

The smoke and the moths makes it feel like an invasion taking over Vancouver. It’ll be nice once the moths begin to disappear. This year has been the worst so far for the moths.

Even Arthur, our moth mascot, found love after an entire year hanging out and ran off.

Hot Nap

It seems like our part of the world has decided that summer isn’t quite over. The last few days have hit record high temperatures hovering around 30°C. The night shifts were extremely comfortable to work in.

This past week I have been sleeping during the day. Avoiding the heat outside that hits you like a wall when you open the door. Hot naps are the best. They create some amazingly vivid dreams. But trying to sleep in the heat like a normal person? I don’t know why it is so difficult.

Do you like hot sleep? Or do you try and stay cool at night?

I Don’t Want To Miss It

The world for our children has been on pause for half a year. Any other year, they would’ve returned to school by today. They may only be sort of starting by the end of the week, but it clearly won’t be the same as it has in the past.

1st Day of School 2017

Today our oldest attended a virtual orientation. Tomorrow our middle goes to school for an information session about the new protocols and on Friday our youngest does the same. Every year, my wife likes to take a photo of the kids in our front yard getting psyched about the first day back.

Today, we didn’t do that for our oldest. She is in post-secondary school and is more adult than child. But I still want my wife to take photos of the other two. It’s a tradition I want to keep alive even in these uncertain times.

2011 Walking to school.

Did you still take first day of school pictures this year?

Working Stress-Free

Sometimes a night at work can be relaxing. Having a purpose and doing a job can help alleviate the stresses of the world.

All those crazy emotions of home life are put on pause during the hours at my job. I’d like to think that life away from work is calm and peaceful, but it isn’t always. The worries of returning to school during a pandemic are highest in my home. Like many other parents, we are just waiting to see how life plays out.

So I take solace at my job. Where precautions have been taken since the beginning. A job I have done for almost 13 years. A place I know all too well keeps me calm.

From Fails to Finished

Yesterday I set up a workspace for the 3D Printer I received the other day. Actually, my wife allowed me to use a small corner of her studio where she makes her wonderful hats. Check out her website- Ningen Headwear for some great winter hats!

I spent a good couple of hours leveling the bed, installing software on our computer, and getting a couple of designs ready to print. The first test design was a thank you to my wife for use of her space. She had made some face masks and wanted one of these to try out. It was technically “Headwear” related- Surgical Mask Strap. I figured it was an easy print and wouldn’t take very long.

Boy was I wrong.

After about half a dozen failed attempts just starting, I eventually got a print that was not at all what it was meant to be. It was missing some layers. Back to the Internet and YouTube to figure out my issue. Turns out I hadn’t set the proper parameters for my brand of printer.

A couple tweaks and we had a successful first print! Followed by two more successes! I could really get addicted to this feeling of accomplishment. But now I am out of my spool of plastic. Time to wait for the Amazon order to arrive. During that time, I plan on getting some more files downloaded and ready to print.

I see how this could become a love/hate relationship with a 3D printer.

It Wouldn’t Keep Still

Today was one of those really busy days off. To quote Mrs. Premise: “Busy? I just spent four hours burying the cat.” It feels like all I’ve been doing is hardly making a dent on my projects. Just making more of a mess. Like trying to bury a cat that won’t keep still.

But I’m done for the day. Time to finish up making dinner and vegetate in front of the big screen and watch some shows. It’ll be some relaxing family time tonight in the theater room. Although I’m sure our oldest will be preoccupied with her new iPhone 11.

But some days I’ll take what I can get. Especially as the kids get older.

Most Liked

Facebook loves to share “Memories” when I log in. I’m sure many of you see yours as well (if you still use Facebook). Sometimes I love seeing the old photos or bizarre status updates I once did. I can’t even remember the last status update I did… I also removed all friends a year and a half ago, so no point to update into thin air…

Today Facebook shared with me- my most “Liked” photo of the year 2009. It’s a cute picture of the time my children made a train out of cardboard boxes for me. Having deleted 400+ friends, how many “LIKES” would you say this picture received? 200? 100? 50?

FIVE.

My most “LIKED” photo of 2009 had FIVE likes. For the entire year of 2009. One of which was my wife. I’m not saying this is the greatest photo ever of 2009. But for a person who had a few hundred “Facebook Friends” you’d think that I could get a higher number on any of my photos.

In the end though, looking for satisfaction through other people’s opinions doesn’t equate for the sheer happiness that this photo brought to me personally. My joy isn’t measured in numbers from other people clicking a thumbs up for me.

Its part of the reason I don’t try and sell myself or this blog. Sharing personal stories is for my mental well being. And in the end- that matters most.

Feel free to like and share today’s blog.

Pay It Down

Once August is passed by, my paychecks seem to get bigger. All my taxes and Canadian Pension gets paid up for the year. It feels refreshing.

Today I paid off one credit card. That felt great. In two weeks I’ll be paying down another card. I figure by November I’ll be able to splurge a bit for Christmas. Although with the world the way it is, I may have to start ordering some gifts earlier for shipping.

I have always been the type of person who likes to pay bills as soon as they arrive. Not waiting until the due date. There are times that I will set the payment to come out on the day before the bill is due. Having access to online banking is one of the greatest things when watching your money.

I’m not good with money by any means. I honestly think our oldest is smarter with money than I am. She saves and squirrels away her hard earned cash for big ticket items. Like a laptop or schooling.

How are you with money? Ever feel the pinch of too many bills?

Sober September Number 3

This is my third year going for “Sober September”. In fact I am already starting it early because last year I slipped and had a beer part way through the month. I won’t let that happen again this year.

If all goes well, I’m going to push for an Alcohol-Free Autumn. I’m not sure if my wife will try and join me this year. She doesn’t possess the same internal struggle as I when it comes to having a vice. In general I have more of those evil addiction traits than her.

Most of my year has had me in pictures with various beers at a variety of places. I appear to be touting the joy of drinking like an old magazine advertisement. As if drinking and fun go hand-in-hand. But seeing the last image of myself in front of my favorite watering hole, I realized I don’t look as healthy as once was. I have put on some unhealthy weight and a fake smile that I really do not like.

So wish me luck in my journey of Sober September 3. Each year gets harder than the last to let the drinking go. That is a sobering statement in and of itself.

Camping Injuries: Cuts and Bruises Edition

Camping is over and we are back home. We have some great memories, loads of photos, and plans to return next year.

However, this year was my year for injuries it seems. Last year, our oldest suffered a wasp sting- Windy wind Down. It’s probably part of the reason she didn’t join us this year. Or maybe being 18, she doesn’t want to hang out with the family on boring camping trips…

Anyhow, my first injury came on the first night as I was wittling a stick. The blade slipped and cut into my thumb. A couple of days later I had a huge sliver go into the palm of my hand. The day after that was when I suffered the most.

Over the past few years, I have set up a hammock between two trees. I usually use a ratchet strap and tighten the tension up. However, I forgot it at home because we now use them for storing the kayaks. This year I used a piece of rope on one tree and on the other tree a luggage strap. It worked fine when I used the hammock the first time.

The second time I was not so lucky. I was in the hammock listening to music, enjoying the breeze and watching the rest of the family playing in the water. Suddenly the luggage strap opened up and my top half was on the ground. My elbow and thigh suffered some hefty bruising. So did my ego as I looked around to see if anyone had witnessed my folly. Nope. I was good.

The bruises and cuts are already healing and starting to fade. Good thing I had my Nissan first aid kit with us. And Advil. Next year I will try and be smarter. Perhaps it will be my wife’s turn for injuries.

Fire And Bubbles At Sunset

Our last evening at the campground was relaxing and filled with silliness. We watched the sunset over the mountains and the sky turning pink. I started a fire in the fire pit with the help of my son and we sat at the beach listening to some Queen.

My wife and daughter began playing with bubbles between our fire and the water. The sheer amount of joy they were having astounded me. They kept it up until it got dark and had run out of bubbles. We all enjoyed our final evening together.

Of course we also had our last bite of campfire S’mores for the summer. Another nice way to end the trip.

Temporary…?

Yesterday I posted on Instagram about a sleeve tattoo. It got many responses and I received a few text messages from friends about it.

Many did not read my tags underneath about the tattoo being fake. Not my intent, but humorous nonetheless.

I was given the temporary tattoo by a coworker a couple of weeks ago. I thought it was a neat opportunity to see if I like the idea of a sleeve tattoo. For the next few days I’ll see what I think, and see what my family thinks as well.

The only tattoo I do have is from 2008 for my 32 birthday. A double helix with a dragon head and my children’s names in the ribbon. It’s a perfect mix of my atheist beliefs and fantasy. I always loved dragons. And with children named Random, Darwin and Theory- the DNA strand was a perfect tattoo choice for me.

Twelve years later, and I’ve been thinking about getting more art on my body. Even though the sleeve tattoo looks authentic, it is sadly temporary. It’s hard to justify spending that kind of money for art though. Especially if it’s just for me.

But the temporary tattoo is growing on me. I like the idea of putting more artwork on my body. It’s a good expression of oneself, and I love seeing talented tattoo artists spreading the joy. Maybe on my 50th birthday I will have another tattoo planned out.

Dinner Bundt Bread

Last night I decided to experiment with incorporating fresh baked bread with dinner. I came up with a dish worthy of being repeated, with a few tweaks.

I made a French bread dough recipe from scratch. After letting the dough rise, I took 2/3 of it and rolled it out as flat as I could so that it would fit nicely in a greased bundt pan.

I then put a thin layer of homemade pesto, sprinkling of feta cheese, added some cooked and seasoned ground beef, poured on some tomato sauce, finished with a layer of grated marble cheese. Then I folded over the balance of the dough and sealed the edges.

I baked it in the oven at 375° for 25 minutes. It came out golden and crisp. The flavors melted together beautifully. My only complaint was that the beef was crumbly. When I make it next time, I may need to add some bonding agent such as eggs or more cheese. It will change the taste once a bit, but not enough to make it drastic.

I chose to make this because I want to get into baking breads. Plus we rarely use our bundt pan. It seemed like a good combination for a dinner plan.

What do you make in your bundt pan?

Do you make fresh bread from scratch?

Farm Fresh Country Living

Our one acre of privacy is surrounded by larger acreages. Some have horses, many are hobby farms. Personally I don’t want any other animals to take care of as our dog is the hardest one to look after lately. He’s getting old and it makes me sad. But I want to talk about our neighborhood instead of our puppers.

Wandering around our neighborhood there are a few little stands set up. One is from a couple little kids. They are selling a variety of zucchini and squash. It’s really cute that they are trying to be entrepreneurs. Pretty sure they got “backing” from mom and dad. As in harvesting their vegetables.

The other type of stands that are around are for “Free Range Eggs”. We have a couple of these in our neighborhood. I have not purchased from them. My wife has in the past and was not thrilled with the color of the yolks. I won’t go into detail, but store bought eggs are more reliable in her opinion.

There is also an herb stand around the corner as well as a few small businesses. Such as a Christmas tree farm, a turkey farm, and a few vegetable greenhouses. Having these nearby is unique and pleasing. I do enjoy the freshness of the vegetables as well as the luxury of having these places nearby.

Are you more city or country? Perhaps you love the suburbs.

Vacation Feels

It’s nearing the end of summer. It’s the final push to enjoy ourselves. I am also starting eleven days of vacation. That means time away from work, which is great to recharge the mental batteries. Even though we may not be traveling to a favorite destination.

We are still planning on having a good time as a family. Tonight we made smoked turkey legs and watched some “Disney Park Blogs” YouTube videos during dinner.

Of course we all wore our Mouse Ears! Because who knows when the next time we will be attending a Disney Park again… But the feels needed to come out. The ears brought forth joy, laughter and memories.

I’m ready to have a great time with my family during staycation. British Columbia is the next best place to be next to Disneyland! Especially if you get to share moments with loved ones.

Buster Poindexter Kind of Hot

The past few days have been the hottest I ever remember experiencing. As if the world decided all at once that it was time to crank the thermostat and break the switch at the same time.

It’s perpetually hot now. Yes, summer is nice, I’m not trying to complain. But give us those perfect summer days with a cool summer night. Not habanero heat hovering heavily all around. It’s just unpleasant.

I ventured out of my air conditioned office a couple of times the past couple of days at work. The wall of heat hit hard. So hard that I used “H” alliteration twice in this blog.

Sleeping in this heat is difficult as well. You lay down with no covers enjoying the fan. Inching closer and closer to the cool air blowing at your body. On the verge of falling off the bed in hopes to cool your feet down at the very least. Or so I imagine it to be.

Our home doesn’t get warmer than 24°C on a hot day. The abundance of trees shade our home. The brick work keeps it trapped inside.

It’s just stepping outside that sucks. It’s too damn HOT HOT HOT.

Smelling Clean

I like to shower everyday. After my shower I always put on “Pit Stick” to freshen up. Over the past couple of decades I have been loyal to one particular brand. For no other reason than it is inexpensive and works for me.

Degree Antiperspirant. I don’t like overly fragrant men’s stuff. Degree is perfect. As I mentioned about a month ago, I hate to Sweat. It feels icky. Rarely do I skip on my daily shower. Sometimes I’ll have two in the day if required.

If I forgo a shower, or know that I’ll need one later in the day, I do not put on antiperspirant. I put on deodorant. And since this is a rare occasion, my deodorant has lasted me a very long time. So long in fact that I swear I’ve had it since before the internet became a thing. There isn’t even an “AOL KEYWORD” on the label.

This brand of deodorant is even cheaper than my antiperspirant. It has a fantastically tacky name- SpeedStick. It also smells like my father once did- since it was the brand he tended to favor.

There’s an argument to be had of antiperspirant vs deodorant. I’m not going to start that today. Since I am biased in my judgement- because clearly sweating is icky. A

nd antiperspirant is the obvious winner.

S N O H

S N O H. Say those letters quickly a few times.

A SANDWICH

I love making sandwiches. I mentioned how much we love Bread yesterday. Making sandwiches is the best part of eating bread. Like most people, I also do the following when making sandwiches:

I leave my knife on the edge of the sink while I go and eat my meal. You know, just in case I want to make another sandwich. Because clearly, I know that my sandwich is a work of art that I may want to duplicate and enjoy a second time. Although, it is rare for me to make a second sandwich for myself.

My children also do this. But they leave the knife there until someone else puts it in the dishwasher. That’s a tad bit frustrating.

Are you guilty of leaving a knife on the edge of the sink? Don’t lie. I know most of you are.