November 25th, 2020

Normally on November 25th I go out and see my father’s final resting place, followed by a beer or two. Not today. Today I will not be drinking a beer for my father. Nor will I share any stories about him. Instead, I’d like to tell you that I hit a personal milestone that I’m genuinely proud of.

I’ve been sober for three months today. I may not have seemed like an alcoholic to most people. Looking at my posts on Instagram and the fact that I have a category called “Alcohol” in my blog- I thought I was just having normal fun- with booze.

I was a social drinker. Hanging out until last call, stopping for “a beer” with friends. Joking that “It only takes me one beer to get me drunk, I’m just not sure if it’s the fifth one or the sixth one.” It’s also one thing to have my friends looking to me as the person who is always ready for a drink.

I would often come home from work and drink a few beers. On my days off I’d drink at least twice as much each day and then finishing whatever alcohol I could find once the beers ran out. Its in my genetics to go way overboard when I do drink. However when my heart is racing after a few beers and my kids are calling me out and telling me I drink too much- I needed to reassess my life.

What started as Sober September this year has escalated into a three month win. A huge victory that I am proud of. The pilgrimage I set upon was only spoken of with those who were close to me. Talking about the burden of alcoholism isn’t easy.

If I could pat myself on the back, I am going to do it here publicly. The next month will probably be the most difficult for me to get through. I always took pride in setting up my “First Christmas Tree” of the season- the booze dispenser. My coffee would be spiked, and the eggnog as well. Not this year. This year is the new me attempting to emerge and conquer the world.

I needed to share this three month milestone. As embarrassing as it seems to be at times. Alcoholism is something I’ve lived with all my life. I have been drinking pretty regularly since I was 17. Making a fool of myself on many occasions and not knowing when or where the limit was. Alcoholism was destroying my health and my bank account. I also had a few negative memories that I left for my children. From stupidity to anger to embarrassment- I was easily losing “Father of the Year” chances more and more frequently.

Thank you for reading. I am trying to live the rest of my life the best way I can. If I falter, I hope to get back up and work towards being a better me.

A Cry Can Feel Good

Sometimes you just need to let out a cry. One of those deep, sobbing, flush your heart of pain kind of cries. During the cry- it sucks. Emotions are suddenly overwhelming every sense in your body.

Afterwards, you feel good- almost empty. And no one hates you for doing it. No one judges you for letting the pain get expelled. We all go through it. Sometimes there is no clear reason as to why the tears kick in. But it happens.

Fighting back the tears doesn’t help. Doing that can make the feelings worse. And sharing why you hurt isn’t always easy. But take solace in knowing you are not alone, even if it feels like it.

Whether you know me personally or through this crazy cyberspace world. I have bad days and need to share sometimes. I also have good days that I keep to myself.

We’re in this together.

Mushrooming

My wife mentioned how some of her coworkers go out and collect wild mushrooms in autumn. Today was a perfect day for me to explore our yard for such fungi.

I downloaded an app that allows me to take a photo and it would tell me if it was toxic or safe to eat. I downloaded “Picture Mushroom” and it has a free trial for the week, but costs $29 for the year. So why not try it out since this was my first foray into mushrooming. And I don’t think I will be out in much more of the world to search for ‘shrooms, so after this week, I’ll likely delete the app. (If anyone has an app they enjoy using- please let me know).

The afternoon turned into a fun hunt for my wife and I. We gently collected a variety of mushrooms, keeping them separated so that we could cross-check afterwards just in case. We don’t want a sick family because of a lack of knowledge.

Turns out that we had quite the collection of various mushrooms growing on our property that were good for consumption! My wife and our oldest daughter went to work cleaning the funguses and we stored them away in paper bags until tomorrow night’s dinner.

In our front yard, we also happened to find a smattering of toxic mushrooms. The kind that cause hallucinations. We collected them up and told our teens about them and the effects. Ingesting these types of mushrooms is not on our radar at this time. But we removed them from the yard anyways.

Do you go mushroom hunting? Any good recipes to share? Or perhaps any ill effects happened?

Let me know in the comments. (And no, we are not selling the psychedelic ones!)

What Day Is Quarantine Day?

I know that it’s Thursday. I just don’t know what the date is anymore. The world is so confusing right now. It’s probably going to get even worse soon.

We are about to embark on another round of quarantine. This is no time to get lax and visit with people outside of your bubble. My family has been lucky and we have remained healthy. All of us do our part- wearing masks, limiting contact with others, washing hands, sanitizing- all of it. So far it’s been good.

The world is getting worse. So take care people. Keep your bubbles small. And if your sick- stay in solitude. It will help.

Tick Tock

Tick Tock

No not the app. But the numerous Clocks in my house. All ticking away noisily as I sit at my dining room table alone. No one is awake yet. Even the outdoors are calm today.

Listening to the clicks and tings of my home as it wakes up is eerie. The sound of the heat slowly kicking in and a half dozen clocks mark each passing moment. As if my home is one large clock with many tiny clocks inside. And I’m just a cog going ‘round.

All the while these sounds are filling my mind with the idea that I’m flittering my time away. Staring blankly at my phone as I scroll through my latest newsfeed. Passing time until the next moment.

Tick Tock goes the clock.

Beautiful Starts And Ends

I was driving into work last night and just admired the look of the sky as the sun set. Scanning the horizon you could see yellow encircling the world and above- it would disappear into a rainbow of oranges and pinks. Finally fading off into a dark blue directly overhead.

This morning I came home to see the sun rising. A vivid pastel palette was now overtaking the world. Through the trees in my backyard I could see the winter chill approaching in the air.

I have always admired scenery. Especially as the colours in the sky change- offering a new view to our world. Which do you prefer? Sunrise or sunset?

Last Minute Panic

It’s been a while since I’ve had a tough time writing. Usually I find something that happened and share the story. Sometimes a memory comes flooding in and I feel a strong desire to get the words out. But the past few weeks I e really struggled to keep up with my daily blogs.

What I write is generally for myself. I use my writing as a way of keeping calm and getting those anxiety feels away. I enjoy sharing in this community because 99% of the time people are kind with their comments.

Yes, I have written every single day since January 2016. The goal to write daily is a personal one. The deadline I gave myself is midnight every day. I do not want to skip a beat as I fear that it would make me susceptible to doing it again, and then again, until I finally just gave up.

I’m not ready to give up my writing. I just want you to know I’ve been having a tough time feeling creative. I am sorry about these late night posts. I generally like to have my stories out by breakfast. When the day has yet to take over, and the brain has had a good rest.

Hopefully I’ll be back on track again soon. Those of you who still follow-Bear with me. I’ll get better.

Be Patient With The Results

As the USA still has no clear winning President, it is important for everyone to be patient. This is truly an unique moment in history that the world is witnessing. It could be a huge shift in how elections are run in the future. Especially in this day and age of “instant gratification” that we have all become accustomed to.

So to my American neighbors- be patient. Every vote matters. Every vote needs to be counted. There will be a President announced.

And please stay civil if you don’t happen to like the end result. It’s only a few years- work towards change or appreciate the results if it fits your views.

Lucky 13 Years Later

I’m always sharing memories here in my blog. Scrolling threw my Facebook to find some “Throwback Thursday” photos for my Instagram. I wanted to share some pictures from our numerous visits to Disneyland for Halloween, as I mentioned in yesterday’s blog: Decade of Disneyland.

I discovered a memory that I knew was around this time of year. It was thirteen years ago today that I finished working at Chuck E. Cheese’s. I had five years of memories there, and it was where my children got spoiled. My kids were there 2-3 times a week playing video games, getting any prize they wanted off the wall, and tons of pizza. I also had the opportunity to manage numerous teenagers, many of whom have become parents of their own children now. Managing them gave me an insight into how to deal with teens of my own one day.

It was sad to leave CEC back then. But joining the railroad was one of the best decisions of my life. Without changing the career path, I never would’ve been able to afford the lifestyle we now enjoy. Including all those Disneyland trips.

It feels like my days at the railroad have been going on forever now. But 13 years went by rather quickly. With tons of memories made over the years at CN- and the first memory being the one where I had to leave some wonderful people- makes me realize how lucky I have been.

I Want It Painted Black

As the song goes- “I see a red door and I want it painted black.” I too painted our front door black. That was five years ago.

Looking at the evolution of our “curb appeal”- I love how the door creates the look in which every thing else follows suit. From our shutters to the trim to the curtains. We made black the accent colour of our home. Even the large chandelier above the front door was given an oiled black finish.

There’s something comforting coming home and seeing the front door with the light on. It’s all about knowing I did these changes on my own. Prideful moment.

I’m On The Pot Again

I’ve fallen into a nightly routine ever since a new dog showed up in our home. Yes, we have officially adopted her. We are changing her name from Scarlet to Maki. Because she is such a goofball. Take a look:

Anyways, a new dog in the house is causing me issues. I have been suffering from allergies. So Much so, that I have resorted to using a Neti Pot once again.

I tried for the first few days to take allergy medicine in order to cope. But it wasn’t working. As well, my coworkers were thinking I was sick. During a time of Covid- it’s not good to be sniffing. The Neti Pot is my answer. It has been helping my nasal passages. I can breath better after each flush.

It’s not like those Seasonal Allergies that cause suffering because of flowers and pollen. These allergies are from a cute puppers that needs love, and I cannot help but give her rubs. So I’m back on the pot. And it’s helping.

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.

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.

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.

Artsy and Creative

Last night I was called “Artsy” by a person who I’ve only known for a short while. I guess I kind of am. But I prefer to be considered more of a “Creator”.

My 14 year old son took this picture yesterday.

I love building stuff, creating paintings, writing stories, taking perfect photographs- that sort of thing. I find it pleasurable to make something from nothing. (It’s probably why I’m obsessing over my 3D printer lately.) Looking at my life, I’ve always been that way.

Disney inspired paintings by my 18 year old.

But my joy of being “Artsy” has rubbed off on our children. Everything from painting to making music videos to photography- our kids create as much, if not more, pieces than I do. Sending them to a Fine Arts School has helped in bringing out their inner creative spirit.

Art is a great way to express oneself. I encourage it for everyone to do. It’s good for the mind and soul.