Puzzle Time

I wrote about Jigsaw Puzzles back in April of 2018. It only seems fitting that I’d mention them again. It seems that our son has decided to dust off some of the boxes of puzzles to keep himself occupied during isolation.

He seemed to be pretty excited about the idea of doing a jigsaw puzzle and posted on his Instagram yesterday about it. He doesn’t post as much on there like his older sisters, so it surprised me to see the post. Usually he posts about speed skating, but I guess since that done for the foreseeable future, it makes sense that he wants to share something.

He hasn’t done nearly as much as I expected, considering I’d probably be close to finished in one sitting. It drives me bonkers to leave a puzzle unfinished. Seeing this laid out on our table made me want to partake in assembling it. But I held back on the urge. It is his puzzle to work on. At least until he asks for help. Then, I may lose sleep trying to get it completed.

Because of the self isolation and being forced to stay home (or nearby) without contact with pretty much everyone, I can see why puzzles have become popular in my Social Media feeds. I find it astonishing that our son also took to jigsaw puzzles as a way to cope and keep occupied. It’s almost like being a part of a “hive collective” ideal. Most of us all fall into the same line of thinking at similar times, even when nothing seems to provoke or promote those thoughts.

But I digress. Puzzles are a great way to keep your mind active. Our son also pulled out an old “word search” book that we had in a cupboard for ages. Pretty sure these are easy puzzles. But they are keeping him away from video games at the moment, which is a nice change of pace.

How are you doing in isolation? Did you begin doing puzzles? If so, what type? Let me know in the comments.

And stay healthy and safe during these crazy times.

Feeling Old. Thanks Hair.

Today I felt a bit older than I usually do. Not because of back pain or remembering when the internet became mainstream. I felt old because of my hair.

My wife stopped and asked me if I had scratched my face beside my mouth. Then she looked closer and said, “Nevermind, must’ve been the shadow of your facial hair in your wrinkles.” Ouch lady. Wrinkles?

Afterwards I went to brush my teeth and a hair fell from my head into the sink. Ugh. Time to take closer examination of my head. Ear hair? Check. Nose hair? Check. Wrinkles? Depends on the facial expression. We’ll go with Check. Receding hairline? My forehead definitely looks big- Check. Finally… grey hair? Please say it’s blonde, please say it’s blonde….

Nope. That’s a few strands of grey showing up. Not what I wanted to see.

Or perhaps I should look at the grey as a Silver Lining. A showcase of the life I’ve lived so far. And those wrinkles? That’s from all the smiling I’ve done from years of laughter. Nose hair and ear hair? Ok, those are just gross to see- time to trim. But the rest shouldn’t make me feel old. I should feel accomplished.

And I guess I do. Sometimes it just takes a closer look at one’s life to see past the image of oneself. Thanks hair. You’ve shown me a lot more today than I expected. Now stop falling out.

Super Cleaning!

We’ve been busy today with more cleaning. So much so that I don’t have much time to write today’s blog.

Our middle child took on the task of cleaning out all the cupboards in all the bathrooms. Pretty sure this is the look of regret by starting on it. She has found plenty of “product” that we never use. Time to turf it!

My son and I were cleaning the windows in the sun room. Bleach around the edges to get rid of the black and grime forming. Then washing the windows twice in order to get rid of the streaks.

Being cooped up in the house has it’s benefits. The cleaning was taken in stride and the kids were very willing to do the chores. Plus we aren’t out spending money- that’s always good for the bank account.

How clean is your house these days? Doesn’t it feel good?

Donuts or Doughnuts?

Mmmm dessert cake things. However you want to spell them (I’ll use both spellings in this blog)- they are sweet treats of yum that make you go nuts!

Okay, sugar high aside… we made donuts from scratch today. they turned out pretty darned good. I decided to make the doughnuts because I put fresh oil in the deep fryer. No one wants French fry or chicken strip flavored desserts.

The recipe was one I’ve been wanting to try for ages since I first ate one of these doughnuts. I didn’t make the cotton candy icing this time around. Forget it! I’m going to start a second batch right now and do that for this next batch. For the first donuts, our daughter made a lemon icing that she loves, and is equally as delicious.

I know a few things I could do differently… mostly patience with the yeast and the rising of the dough. But not bad for my first ever attempt. Definitely going to repeat it… Right now!

Here is the link to the original recipe. Go and try it for yourself!!! Terri’s Donuts

My April Fools Joke

With everything going on in the world, it’s good to have some humor once in a while. And with today being April Fool’s Day, what better day to have some laughs? Since the kids are staying home due to the Covid19 epidemic, they have been enjoying not going to school. Time to change that.

I came home after my night shift at about 7am. I promptly went upstairs and woke up our two youngest teens. I told them they were late for school and it was time to get up. Naturally, they weren’t quite believing me as I rushed back down the stairs. A few seconds later, I hurriedly went back to their rooms and told them they had to get going.

My son rolled over in bed and flat out said, “There’s no school dad. Nice try.” My response was, “The school sent an email that it was back on.” And with that statement- it got him out of bed.

I kept them rushing around as I asked what they wanted for breakfast and in their lunches. Then I told them to pack their bags and instruments, because we were late for music class. That got my daughter confused and she rushed back upstairs. She passed my son as he was hurdling back down fully dressed. This must’ve lit a fire in her, because she was dressed and downstairs again within five minutes.

I had their breakfast at the table with a cup of coffee for each of them. I sat down across from them and joined them. That’s when my son asked about his other older sister and I lied saying she had to work and because of that commitment she would miss the first day back to school. My daughter then asked what’s going on. And I said, “It’s April First. You know what that means.”

You could see it click inside. “April Fools. Nice one dad.” And she laughed. My son complained that he should still be in bed for three more hours. At least I know now that the kids can hustle and be ready to leave in ten minutes.

This was a great “Dad Joke” April Fools Day prank.

Home. Home Again.

I like to be here when I can.

As much as I enjoy sharing about the adventures we take or have taken, I still enjoy having a home to rest my soul at. Being here a bit more frequently lately has made me appreciate what I do have.

Besides four walls and a roof to hold my stuff, I have a loving family. A family that remembers my birthday and Father’s Day. A family that will go out of their way to like the things I like in order to share moments with me.

In this home there are vestiges of each and every one of them. From pictures to artwork to trinkets- our collections share a story or a fond memory. I’m lucky that these reminders are around. They bring me joy.

That’s all I wanted to share with you. But I also used today’s blog as a friendly reminder to myself that I have an entire universe of love and kindness here in my home, even if I feel trapped.

Up Schitt’s Creek

All this time at home meant binge watching tv shows. I’m sure that it’s what everyone else is doing. Being told to not go out and socialize is a great excuse to stay in and watch Netflix! So here’s a couple that my family has enjoyed.

My kids have been watching Schitt’s Creek and have grown to love it. My wife and I have already seen the show and have deemed it appropriate enough for our teens to enjoy. It’s some good old fashioned Canadiana humor.

My wife and I have now watched the train wreck which is “Tiger King”. Holy smokes is this show bonkers. Just when you think it’s over, something new emerges. All of these people are levels of crazy that I did not think was possible. And it’s a DOCUMENTARY! Not like a “Flat Earthers” type of crazy or “Jackass” type of buffoonery. This is batshit insane what you see happening over the course of five years between these people.

Both shows contain mature content and languages. So not for the prudish or young. But both are entertaining in their own ways.

Have you seen either of these shows? What shows are you enjoying during isolation?

Back To Normal?

My vacation is ending today. I enjoyed my physical distancing of the rest of the world as I stayed home. I kept busy during my time off working around the house/yard. I also enjoyed the cooking and painting I accomplished while in seclusion.

Getting back to work after an extended time away is always challenging. There are changes to adapt to and hundreds of emails to read. Heading back to a “normal routine” during the epidemic feels a tad strange. Moving trains helps keep the goods flowing to the customers and places to keep the public supplied. I’ll still be practicing my physical distancing and extreme cleanliness.

Traveling to work and coming home will be the majority of my venturing into the wild during this COVID-19 crisis. I’m glad that for the next three weeks I’ll be working the night shift as well. It means far less people to interact with. Plus I get to sleep all day long.

Like one giant nap.

Spring Break Staycationing

The past few days I’ve been staying at home. Wednesday was the last time I ventured out. I had booked vacation time for this week because I knew the kids would be home for Spring Break. I did not know COVID-19 was going to be so widespread, thus requiring people to stay home.

It’s tough to feel cooped up that’s for sure. I’ve seen a lot on Instagram of people making the most of the situation. Many others are doing the same thing I’ve been doing for “Spring Break.”

Originally we were going to do some day trips around the Lower Mainland, and I was planning an overnight excursion to Victoria. Instead, I have taken the time to do touch ups to our home that are long overdue. Loads of yardwork, painting and decluttering. But visible progress has been made.

I’ve also enjoyed the extra time we are having together as a family. Making meals and having fun. I’ve been actively spending extra time with each member of the household. And not just making the kids do work, but actually having quality parenting time. I think a break amongst the hard work is necessary.

How are you coping with seclusion and physical distancing?

Sushi At Home

I’m enjoying this at home meal making. Tonight I made homemade sushi. I’ve made sushi at home previously, so I wasn’t afraid to have another go at it. I’m also getting better at making sushi.

I also cheated a bit this time around. I used a Sushezi. It’s essentially a “Sushi Bazooka” that pushes out the rice/fish mixture. It makes the sushi rolls so much faster than when I roll my own. Unfortunately they are much larger than regular sushi rolls.

The family enjoyed the dinner and scarfed it down in record time. Much faster than when I was making it.

How are your cooking skills these days?

I Made Pasta!!! Eat It.

I’ve always wanted to make my own pasta. So I decided that while I’m at home avoiding the world- this is the best time to try it. I even had a helper who enjoyed the rolling out of the pasta.

A couple of years ago I wrote about my discovery of my father’s old pasta maker: My Place Is In The Kitchen. It promptly was put in the back of a cupboard to be forgotten about, until today. I think it was because of playing the video game “Overcooked 2” recently that inspired me.

I decided to try my hand at making spinach pasta as my first ever attempt. Mainly because my wife bought a metric shit-ton of spinach, and no one was eating it. Why not make a green pasta with a white sauce?

Our middle daughter was a fantastic helper as we rolled out long strands of pasta. She also brought her Pop Vinyl from the film Ratatouille so that he could watch over us.

Who knew making pasta was so easy? And delicious. A glass of wine and a side casear salad made for a great family dinner. Making the pasta took the better part of an hour. But it was some good quality time spent with my daughter, and I’d do that any day.

Pressure Washing Zen

My daughters were hard at work the last couple of days using the pressure washer I had recently purchased. Today, I was going to clean just a small area. Five hours and two large decks later, I finally had to stop.

I completely forgot how therapeutic pressure washing can be. The vibration of the wand, the gentle hum of the machine (because you should always wear ear protection!) and the way the water works to remove grime. A soothing visual of immediate changes occur. Sometimes the sun hits the mist and a glinting of rainbows appear.

The final result brings a sense of pride to your work. A clean area to enjoy nature once more. Cleaning therapy, who knew?

All That Hard Work Will Make Our Home

Today the sun was shining and the weather was warm. It was the perfect day to clean the yard and the outside of our home.

Our son took on the task of adding some paint to their old playhouse. We use it as a garden shed now, but it can easily be converted back for play should young kids ever live here again.

Our middle child pulled out the lawnmower and gave the first mow of the season to the backyard. We have about half of our acre that needed a mow. The rest is mostly trees and bushes.

Our oldest enjoys pressure washing. With all the trees and dampness in our area- a lot of green shows up on cement and such. A deep cleaning at the start of the season will make for a good spring and summer.

At the end of the day, it feels like we’re only part way through. We’ll get there soon enough. And then we can relax enjoying nature and our home.

Planning For The Solitude

With everything going on in the world today, I have made a plan to keep our children busy. Go Joe!

Today I headed out and hit up the Home Depot for a pressure washer, some cleaning supplies, tools and paints. A $1000 later and I have enough projects to keep us busy for quite some time.

I also made a point of getting my haircut, an oil change and to pick up some old records. Those last three were in order to support small businesses during this tough time. With everyone rushing to buy toilet paper and pasta sauces, remembering that those small businesses rely on us now more than ever. These small businesses are also taking precautions to ensure healthiness. As well, I did my best to avoid touching stuff and sanitizing frequently.

Starting tomorrow, I don’t plan on leaving my house anytime soon. I am on a week of vacation that I was already planning on just staying home. We have enough food to keep us fed for nearly a month. But that’s how we have always been. We keep our freezer and pantry stocked at all times. Of course this could all change if required.

Like if I run out of beer. But I got a decent stockpile of cheap beer to keep me going.

Seriously though, I plan on not going out any more. Every place I went to today was pretty empty. And no one was rude or panicked. Let’s keep it that way please.

Cancel Those Beer Plans

I’m not one for going out on St. Patrick’s Day as it is, which is fine. It’s a fun type of celebration for many though. From plastic leprechaun hats to green beers- people love to have a raucous of a time today.

With today being St. Patrick’s Day, it would normally be filled with people going out and having a good time. But due to the recent pandemic, it is recommended that people stay away from large gatherings. Sadly this may mean no green beers in the pub. The world needs a touch of good luck, but we seem to have a No Leaf Clover kind of day. Hopefully things get better before they get worse.

If you are still going to celebrate with some beer- do it safely from the comfort of your own home. Maybe Skype or FaceTime some friends instead. Practice that new buzz term- Social Distancing. As I’ve gotten older, I enjoy Social Distancing already. So, here’s my virtual clinking of a glass to you-

Cheers!

Inspired Art

Yesterday was my birthday. And while it wasn’t what you’d call a “Milestone Birthday” it was still memorable and caring.

Going to work wasn’t special that’s for certain. A couple coworkers wished me a happy birthday, which was nice. There are was no “Office Cake” which I am glad about. I’m not much of a sweets fan. At home, I did receive a cake. Sort of. It was an oversized cream puff that reminded my family of our trip to Tokyo a couple of years ago. But the cake wasn’t the gift. The gifts was my daughters handmade artwork they felt symbolizes who I am.

My youngest daughter painted 28:06:42:12 on a canvas for me. (On the back is a lovely paragraph written with uplifting comments by my daughter. That brought a tear to my eye.) For the past decade I have posted that image on Instagram or Facebook as a countdown to The Ides of March- March 15- my birthday. Many of my connections and friends see it as a “Donnie Darko” reference. Which it is. But I’m also a bit self centered and love to make people think about what the countdown is for.

My older daughter chose to go simplistic with an iconic “Running Man” image from Intellivision. The kids know I’m excited about the Amico system coming out this fall. Naturally this image means more to me than most folks. It is a great piece of imagery in my opinion. A change of colour and size symbolizing growth over the years.

I love that my children feel that my passions and joys can bring inspiration to their art. And that they want to relive those passions in art they give me. That is the greatest gift- knowing I’m a muse to my children.

2020 44

March 15,1976: A self proclaimed hero was born in Halifax Nova Scotia. He came screaming into the world not knowing what was in store for him. Except naps. Lots of naps. Little did he know that his adventures would continue to the other coast of the country.

Here he is, 44 years later. A hero to his family, friends and coworkers. His superpowers include hyper kindness, magnified positivity, ultra attentive listening, and height. All of which he tries to showcase regularly. All of which makes him more than just a man.

He has a loving wife and kids. A good job with good pay. Friends who reach out and show that they care as well. Looking at his life- he should be happy. And he is. Today is his birthday and it marks one more revolution around the sun. One more notch on his superhero belt.

I couldn’t feel super if it wasn’t for everybody in my life. Thank you everyone for always being gracious and fun. that’s the best gift I can get on a daily basis.

Bloody Weather Doesn’t Feel Like Spring Break

The weather today was frustrating. It was sunny but windy. I thought it would be an alright kind of day, but it was really cold. A funky kind of cold that chills you to your core. I’m at home now after wandering around with my wife and still shivering. What in the world?!

The day ended with the sun setting over our backyard- gleaming with beauty. As it grew darker, I also became tired. I’ll be retiring to my bedroom early tonight. No family movie night for me.

Our kids have two weeks off from school to enjoy spring break. And with my vacation starting on Wednesday, I’ll spend more quality time with them at that point. Considering the fear of the COVID-19, we’ll probably get “cabin fever” by the end of their break. And if the weather doesn’t get warmer, pretty sure we’re going to be vegging in front of the tv a whole lot.

Stay Home- Early Start To Spring Cleaning

Next week, I have a week of vacation. We won’t be going anywhere due to the things going on in the world. So I’m going to get a jump start on Spring Cleaning! Or rather- I’ll make lists and get the kids to do most of it!

Except for today. Today I took advantage of a couple of hours of decent weather and filled six yard waste cans. No kids, no hassles, just me and the front yard. The wintertime always make the yard look bleak.

But when spring hits- Hoo boy. Our yard gets green and full of life. Which is good because the growth helps to hide the weeds and fallen branches that we neglect to pick up. Rarely do we need to buy any plants as it all comes back each year. Super awesome!

The fresh air and a bit of solitude will do the family some good. We’ve been busy with speed skating and graduation planning that this Spring Break is needed. No big plans, but some quality time outside (weather permitting of course) or we dust and wash the windows and floors inside.

Something to pass the time instead of just saying that we are avoiding the world.

Meh or Blah?

So… places of large gatherings are shutting down. Perhaps it’s over precautionary, but that’s probably for the best. I’ve seen and experienced firsthand how gross things can be. Spending a decade or so at various comic and fan conventions- you realize how valuable hand sanitizers and Lysol are. Crowds of people sharing germs, constantly touching things. Rather disgusting.

Prior to those conventions, I spent five years working at Chuck E. Cheese’s. Colds and flus were rampant among guests and staff members. Honestly, I think it boosted my immune system working there. Still, the place was wiped down and disinfected constantly.

Soul Eater

Sporting events, conventions, and Disneyland are being closed to the public. None of those places want people to fall ill or even worse. Completely understandable. You wouldn’t want your business to be the epicenter of an outbreak… I wonder how it’ll affect our vacation plans this summer when we wanted to hit up that magical place once again.

Maybe we won’t go… Only time will tell. If our trip gets postponed it may mean more time hanging out locally in smaller settings. Or just staying home.

Has the COVID-19 hampered your travels?

Is the world freaking out for no good reason?

Panic Purchasing? Butt Why?

Oh man. There is a lot of panic in the world right now. Especially regarding COVID-19. Unfortunately paranoia is causing folks to be a tad bit irrational.

On Saturday morning in my hometown of Langley, a video was taken of people rushing into a Costco to buy toilet paper of all things. The media has been reporting of the scarcity of the butt tissues for some time now. As if a lack of shit tickets is the cause of the virus outbreak. But people love to spread misinformation on social media causing panic thus creating a real shortage now. It’s a strange catch-22 that we entered over the past couple weeks.

Yes the virus is real and over 100,000 people in the world have been diagnosed with it. There are 5 million people living in British Columbia- 32 of which have the virus; and 4 of those have overcome it already. Less than 0.0000064 of BC’s population has the virus.

I’m not going to compare these numbers to cancer or the flu. I’m just trying to figure out why toilet paper and racism is taking hold of our society. And I’m at a true loss to explain it.

But if the world runs out of toilet paper, maybe it’s time for purchasing that bidet I’ve been wanting for a couple of years now. Washing my bum was a pleasant experience while traveling in Tokyo.

How is your toilet paper supply?

Are you stocked up?

Women’s Day 2020

Previously I’ve mentioned how amazing some of the women in my life are. Including last year’s International Women’s Day. Every year, I become more and more proud of my wife and daughters.

My wife is a shining example of a great woman. She is loving and caring towards all of us. Many times she is sacrificing her time in order to benefit the family. Without her, I could not imagine a life as wonderful as I have now.

Our oldest daughter is working hard towards finishing high school. Twice a week she is a junior coach for our speed skating club. She also works for 1 Fish 2 Fish– a fish market in Langley. She works with a bunch of other women, all of whom are fantastic customer service representatives and extremely knowledgeable about seafood. They are led by another great lady who has run the business for two decades now.

Our middle child also does junior coaching at Langley Blades Speed Skating. Last month she went to Fort St. John BC Winter Games as a Young Official. She was an amazing asset to the team and loved volunteering her time there. She also pushes her abilities at school with great success.

These are the three women who matter most to me. I’m proud of their individual success stories. It’s also good to see that they are strong, assertive leaders. Our daughters will continue to grow and prosper over the years.

What women are you proud of in your life?

More Than Expected

When I started this daily blog Four Years Ago, my goal was to share about my life and experiences. I use my blog as a way to capture memories and hopefully influence positivity. I was happy and content with friends and family reading up about our lives. But something much more expansive occurred.

Gaining and earning “Followers” is a great feeling. Strangers have become friends- offering “Likes” and “Comments”. All of which have been positive and endearing. When I receive a new “Follower” I check to see what they blog about. Many times I end up following them as well. Everything from DIY to travel blogs.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Thank You for reading! I appreciate it. I hope that you find some solace in reading about my journey on this planet. And of course, always feel free to share my stories with others as you see fit.

Bingo!

19 years ago I needed some extra cash in order to pay for our upcoming wedding. Working part time at Colossus wasn’t making me enough money to start my new life. Since my wife and I didn’t want to do anything extravagant- starting that new life would cost us under $5000. But we still needed a bit of money.

So I got a job as a Bingo Caller. I worked Friday and Saturday nights for three months making some damn good money. And I was really good at the job. Spinning plastic balls every three seconds and calling out the numbers with my modulated tone made me a fan favorite. A favorite to the gamblers that were there every weekend.

I don’t gamble. It wasn’t because of being a bingo caller that I don’t gamble. I just never felt the rush. I’ve bought lotto tickets, tried casinos, and even did bingo on occasion. I’ve had some small winnings. ($50 in slots and $250 in luggage one time.) I don’t look down on anyone who enjoys gambling. It’s just not my thing.

But Bingo Players… they are a strange breed. The “Regulars” has numerous dabbers and rows of good luck troll dolls. 30-50 cards at a time. Their ability to scan these cards as quick as I called numbers- every 3 seconds. A game hardly lasted five minutes before someone yelled “Bingo”.

My job had me sitting on stage. The audience was silent as I spun the balls around to show the camera. After a brief moment, I called out the number shown. At which point, the gentle dabbing on the players’ cards went on. Like working in a library until someone yells “FIRE” “BINGO!” Then the crowds moans and groans. My name gets cursed.

Trust me, at the end of the night- people would literally come up to me and tell me how much they hated me for not calling their numbers. Some would come up and tell me how they loved coming in the nights I worked because of my pleasant demeanor. The place was so bipolar.

I hated that job, but after my wedding I didn’t need the money anymore. So one Friday night, two weeks after my wedding, I quit on the spot before my shift was to start. It was the most satisfying career move I ever did.

Throwing in the towel is sometimes gratifying. Quitting a toxic feeling job made me happy. Money isn’t always the answer. Job satisfaction is more important to me. I also emotionally grew from that job and learned my limitations.

Where Are The Words?

There’s nothing worse than trying to get your thoughts out and you stumble upon your words. You just sit there, struggling to say what you need to say. Feeling like your stupidity is exposed.

Then people try and come to your rescue. They try and complete your sentences or thoughts. Sometimes they’re right, most of the time they’re not. But your words just won’t come out, so you accept theirs as the ones you wanted to say.

Afterwards you wonder- what’s wrong with your mind? And is this a regular occurrence? Am I getting stupid as I get older? Are other people really that much smarter than me?

Yes to all.

But that’s okay. Being stupid means that the expectations can be lower. Time to embrace the dumb! You can call me “Slow Joe” from now on.