A Year With Maki

My wife pointed out to us all that it has been one year since Maki entered into our lives. Over this past year, she has been through a lot of emotional times with us. From Christmas to birthdays, to moving homes to the Loss of Lex– our other dog… Maki has been here with us and for us in many ways.

Yesterday, our daughter shared these images on her Instagram. This was her caption: “A year ago today I met my best friend. The first photo here is the first one I ever took of her. She always knows when I’m feeling down when nobody else does, she’s funny, and she loves me. I love her so so much, happy adoptaversary” When I read that, I really understood the idea that pets can be great companions.

Maki has been wonderful for the mental well-being of our family members. She is always nosing in for a cuddle or rub. Maki is also the first pet that we have allowed to sleep in our kids’ rooms and permitted to jump on the couches. Taking her for a walk hasn’t been problematic either, as we all enjoy talking with her as we walk the neighborhood. Something about Maki is different than our other dogs, and it shows.

We all love her and are happy that she is sharing her love with us in her own derpy way. I can’t believe she’s been a member of our family for a year already.

Where’d The Time Go?

I am almost finished having a week of vacation. There is one day left to go and I’m hoping to make the most of it. Most of my time off was filled with appointments and keeping myself busy.

Looking back at the week, I accomplished what I need to do- but relaxing wasn’t there. Early mornings and chores filled my excess time. I did get a short nap in on Friday afternoon which was nice.

Saturday will have a few fun fall activities planned. I’ll share the story afterwards. Or follow along on my Instagram and you may see the fun before I write about it. It’ll be silly fun for me and my family. I hope that you enjoy it, as I’m looking forward to finishing my vacation with some fun. (If I say fun enough times, it’ll be fun, right?)

Ending a vacation is always difficult. Work creeps up quickly and then you’re back in the grind waiting for the next set of days off. That’s just how life works.

Apple Pie For Thanksgiving

This weekend is Canadian Thanksgiving. Today we are making a turkey for dinner. But yesterday, I made a few desserts that I am really proud of.

Specifically I made two apple pies from scratch- Including the pastry. Which was surprisingly easy to do. It’s just that the pastry needed to cool for a minimum of four hours or overnight in the fridge. So I actually made the dough the night before just to be ready for Saturday. In all honesty, not including baking time or waiting for pastry- apple pie only takes about twenty minutes to prepare.

I did prepare the apples with my daughter’s help. I had done the peeling and slicing while she added the flour, sugar and cinnamon. She stirred it all up and I filled the pie crusts. It was a good team effort and I enjoyed her company along the way.

For the tops of the pies, I did one in a lattice style and the other was just a dough cover with venting holes cut in. Once that was done, I sprinkled some leftover “churro sugar” I had saved. A perfect topping of cinnamon and sugar.

So far I am satisfied with how the pies turned out. They look and smell terrific. After dinner will be the taste test. Not sure what your stance is, but I believe apple pie is far superior to pumpkin pie.

I love warm apple pie a la mode as well. That is the best combination ever created. Mmmm ice cream and pie. I cannot wait for the Turkey to be done so I can enjoy some pie.

Birthdays

Private Movie Screening

This morning I saw an old friend for his fortieth birthday. It’s probably been about a decade since I last saw him. Today, he rented out a movie auditorium and screened the film,”The Green Knight” which was a film that my friend enjoyed this year and really wished to share with us. I’m glad I saw it, as it was more artsy than the films I have been known to watch. The last time he rented out a theater was probably 20 years ago when we both worked at Colossus and he showed the 1990 classic “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.”

It got me thinking about how we celebrate birthdays in general. First birthday is mostly gifts for baby and parents. As children, your parents throw parties for you with the expectation that gifts will be given to the birthday child, they give some cheap goody bags as a thank you.

Then you are a teenager, and you’re “Too Cool” for a Chuck E Cheese party, so you go and hang out. Everyone is broke, so you just do what you did on a regular Friday Night. Once you hit “legal drinking age” that’s when friends buy you drinks and everyone will pitch in for the dinner. After a couple years of this, everyone is broke again. So your birthday is just another reason for others to get drunk- byob style or everyone pays their own way.

As you get older, it seems the milestone birthdays are all that matter. And if you want friends to celebrate with you, you end up throwing your own party. Supplying the food and beverages. Some friends will bring something to share or a bottle for you to enjoy. Eventually as we get even older, birthdays are all but forgotten. You made it around the sun once more, and the few who care will still send you love. And that’s what really matters.

Feeling loved. Not showered with gifts. Legitimate love and caring from people who at one point made an impact on your life, and you made one on theirs. My friend today was an integral part of my life at one point. I’m so happy to have seen his successes and been able to share with him a brief moment today once more. Birthdays should always be important to your friends and family.

My Time Is Valuable

I’m on a week of vacation at the moment. I am not going away on a trip. Instead I have planned to fill each and every day with experiences and time to myself. A mental break from work and stresses.

My time away from work is precious to me. Everything from the hours in between shifts to days off, and especially vacation. Work is the furthest thing from my mind. It’ll still be there when I return.

I do have plans to see some coworkers over the weekend. I’m sure some gossip and work talk will come up. But it’s a bit different than having to answer emails and help out. Plus we can discuss life outside of work, which is nice.

My time is valuable to me. I’m not willing to give it up as it’s one of the most important things to have. People everywhere want some of it. Be wise when giving it out.

Oktoberfest In Small Doses

When I was a kid, National Lampoon’s European Vacation came out on video. I found the film to be absolutely hilarious. It also made me put Germany and other parts of Europe on my bucket list of places to visit. Specifically during Oktoberfest. (Much like our visit to Tokyo during the Cherry Blossoms). Since I have a wife with German roots, this idea excites me more.

Experiencing the world and other cultures like that is high on my list of why life is awesome. So as my wife and I plan our next big trip (which is on pause because of Covid), she is wanting to introduce me to some things that I never tried. The other day was sauerkraut on a bratwurst. All I can say is that it was surprisingly delicious. I’m not a fan of anything pickled, but as an addition to the food, it worked perfectly.

Of course you can’t have Oktoberfest without beer. A couple of years back, my wife and I attended Oktoberfest in September at The Trading Post. This was during one of my “Sober Septembers” so I was the designated driver. I still had a great time watching people cheer and sing while they drank and ate.

Lately, I’ve been enjoying some OOMPA Music played through the Spotify account. There’s something about German Polka that is kind of fun. My family is not as keen as I am it seems. But that’s okay.

Do you enjoy Oktoberfest? Besides German beers of course!

Gloomy Nap

I tried to take a nap this evening after work. It was the perfect evening to do so when I lay down. The sky was dark and the rain was falling heavily.

Moments later, the sun decided it was having none of that. My once dark and gloomy bedroom was being filled with light. Aimed directly at my face. My bed was even with the sun as it set, so I was once again awake.

As a gift for waking me shortly after putting my head to rest, the universe granted me a rainbow. Actually it granted me a faint double rainbow out the front of the house. The rain continued as the sun did it’s best to show itself for a brief moment before hiding for the day.

I will forgive the universe this time for stopping my gloomy nap. Maybe next time I should close the blinds.

Existential Doggo

Another great evening to be had on the back deck as the sun begins to set. I keep on sharing pictures of the view, and it is well worth it. It seems I’m not the only one who enjoys the deck and the sky.

Our dog, Maki, has decided that she is just as good as her human family. She has discovered the joy of sitting on our back patio set and staring off into the horizon. I watched her for a while while she just zoned out.

When I finally got her attention, she just looked so happy. She also didn’t want to leave her seat. So I sat beside her and we gazed out on the horizon. She’s a great companion who can sit silently and just enjoy the moment.

Dogs are the best. I wonder what she was thinking?

Sober September Savings

As my Sober September ends, I realize that it’s the money saved that really makes me not want to drink. Not the overindulgence that I tended to do. When last year I went 300 days sober, it wasn’t that I missed drinking. But there was a few times that a glass of wine or a beer would have been nice.

Tonight I am planning on having a beer with dinner. I needed to buy cheap-ish beer for the egg wash for the schnitzel dinner. Since it was a recipe I perfected from my father, I also picked up a few Czech Pilsners.

Last year’s savings helped with buying a house and all the amenities we wanted. Over the past month, not drinking also stopped us from going out for meals. It’s crazy how drinking and dinner goes well together. So an entire month was filled with savings.

My wife brought up a good point. If I am able to enjoy A Beer periodically, then go ahead. But she has agreed that if I start to go down a negative road and overdo it, then I need to stop drinking and reassess my health. So, it’s time to be smart once more and only drink periodically.

Weather Report Is Close

I think that the weather reporting is getting better than it once was. Take my local report for example. Today calls for “Mostly Cloudy” but no rain; with images of sun peaking over the clouds to end the afternoon. Let’s ignore the next few days, because I swear it is subject to change.

As you can see, the weather app is pretty close. I’d say it’s not as cloudy as expected. So a vague report of clouds and sun is about as accurate as it will get.

Reporting the weather is still a guessing game it seems. Having a precise weather report is a thing for movies like Back to the Future 2. Maybe one day scientists will get it down to the second. But they cannot even get it right for two days from now. Predicting next week’s weather? Not even close.

But I’ll take a day of clouds with sunny breaks anytime.

Derby Reach

On Friday evening, my wife and I dropped our two youngest off at skating and headed out for a walk. Since we were in Walnut Grove, we decided to head to Derby Reach for a gentle hike. For those who may be wondering- Derby Reach is a park area located in Northern Langley, BC.

Our walk along the path gave us plenty to admire. Especially as the sun was slowly setting in the west. It added some beautiful light to the trees and landscapes as we walked for about four kilometers. With plenty to see on a beautiful evening, the stroll was a nice way to end the week.

We ended up near the Fraser River at one point. Looking out across the water we’re more trees and the mountains in the distance. This was around our halfway point, so we took a short break before heading back to our car.

By the time we returned to the car, dusk was fast approaching. As was a slight chill in the air. The walk was refreshing and pleasant. There’s something about being out in nature on these paths that just clears your head and invigorates your lungs.

Starting Autumn Right

Autumn has officially started. All I can say is that we are doing alright as it takes hold and kicks summer to the curb. I have enjoyed the past few days already. The weather has been rather cooperative. Fooling us into thinking summer hasn’t ended.

Even though we have packed up our pool toys and patio furniture- we are getting every last possible day of use in. The last two days, and tomorrow as well, have kept the temperature in the low 20’s. So we’ve kept the pool heated and clean. I’ve spent more time doing laps than I did all summer. The pool is invigorating and relaxing.

Last night, my wife and I sat on our back deck with the fire pit warming us up. We talked and watched the traffic off in the distance as the darkness took hold of the evening. I love seeing the stars above and the city lights off in the distance. A cup of hot chocolate was a nice treat as well.

How are you enjoying the start of fall?

Morning Moon

The views from our home keep enthralling me. The other day was no exception.

I came home from work after a nigh shift and the fog had rolled in. Much like it had the other day. This was a bit different though- as the moon was still visible in the sky.

I zoomed in on my iPhone, but it couldn’t quite make out the moon. However, those colours were amazing. After numerous attempts to get a better photo of the moon, I gave up and retreated to my room.

Right before going to bed for the day, I moved the telescope in our bedroom and aimed towards the moon. I peered through the lens for a bit, entranced by the craters and shadows. I tried to get a photo using my iPhone, but it turned out far too blurry. However, you could still see the shadows on the surface.

It makes me want a better telescope with an attachment to take photos with my iPhone. Perhaps I’ll get one sometime. But for now, I’ll take what I can get. And what I get is beautiful scenery each day that I look out onto the horizon.

Gourmet Mac ‘N Cheese

I did one of those TikTok recipes the other day and it turned out not too bad. It involved using regular boxed KD Mac and Cheese.

You add the noodles to the pot and water to just cover them. At the same time you pour the cheese powder and add the butter. Then you bring it uncovered to a boil until the noodles are softened. It essentially boils the cheese flavor into the pasta.

You don’t need to drain the water since it boils away. Once it’s done, add the milk or heavy cream and shredded cheese. This creates the thickest, cheesiest and most gourmet Mac and Cheese.

I was impressed with how it turned out. It is definitely a side dish next time as it was too much to handle as a bowl by itself. We will try this again one day, but as a snack I will keep to the original way to make boxed KD.

Oldest, Best Friend

Yesterday afternoon my wife and I attended the wedding of my oldest best friend. I have known him since kindergarten- which is four decades now. My wife has known him half as long, which is still a very long time these days. He is like a brother to me in many aspects.

Sharing in his special day made me feel, well, special. It was a tiny venue of around forty people. It was also quick and to the point. The ceremony happened shortly after 1pm and the reception was immediately after. Everything was completed by 5pm and people began to head home.

I’m genuinely happy for my friend. It seems as though he has finally found the love he was searching for. His new wife also seems to have found in my friend a love that she was yearning for as well. Together they are one of the most perfect couples I have ever seen.

I wish them many more years of happiness and love.

Congratulations William and Vanessa! With love always, Josef.

I Need To Be Better

Around this time every year, I am not the nicest person. I’m especially shitty towards my family. Unfortunately I usually catch myself after I have said or done something hurtful to them.

I have a tough time on a day like today- which would’ve been my father’s birthday. My crummy behavior sprouts up around this time every year and goes until the end of November.

November 25 is the date to be precise- that was the day my father passed away in 2000. Mentally, every year on that date is like a sigh of relief for me. I suddenly can become whole again.

Even though I am aware and acknowledge my shittiness, I still end up overreacting at some of the simplest things. It’s like a couple months of male PMS and I really hate that I am like this. So if I’m a jerk to you (especially my family) please forgive me. I don’t get seasonal depression. I get seasonal asshole.

Gas Fireplaces

Today was a chilly and rain filled day. After being out shopping, my wife and I came home a tad bit wet and rather cold. So we relit the pilot lights on three of our four fireplaces. We turned the fireplaces on shortly after to burn off some of the summer dust.

Our bedroom boasts a two sided fireplace. For the part facing our bed, we placed a lovely faux sheepskin on the carpet. We love walking across it with bare feet- sliding along the softness. With the fireplace lit, it adds a lovely ambiance while laying in bed.

On the other side of the fireplace we have a painting hung up above that our friend made. There is also a chair by the door which leads to the deck. My wife is hoping to learn how to play her bass guitar while sitting with the fire on and viewing the sky.

Our living room fireplace is the only one with a fan. Which makes sense since it has the largest area needed to heat. Today, I decided to add a smart device to it. Now through Google Home I can turn on the fan and the tv. At Christmas, I’ll add a couple plugs for the trees and have them connected to Google Home as well.

The other fireplace we have in the upper floors of the house is in the office. However, the office is currently our daughter’s bedroom. So I’m not adding a photo, she likes her privacy. But once she moves downstairs, my wife is looking forward to working from home with a lovely fire. Our tenants have the other fireplace which is in the second living room. Soon, that will be our oldest’s personal space.

Having gas fireplaces is a luxury we never knew we needed. Our last home has wood burning fireplaces which we used every winter. After having the fire going today in our living room I did notice that my asthma was not affected. Unlike our previous house where I would be wheezing within an hour.

I love having a fireplace and enjoy the moments hanging around them. The soft warm glow makes me happy inside.

Blister In The Sun

After a hard day of manual labor, I had to take note of my hands. They were rough, dirty and beat up. I was assaulted by blackberry bushes that caught my skin and tore me up. But the worst was the blisters I received from the tools I used.

It may not have been an excruciatingly sunny day, but I broke into a sweat. After my first blister began, I caught myself singing “Blister in The Sun” by Violent Femmes over and over in my head. Let me go why??? I also tried to baby that spot, but the skin quickly tore away, so I gave in to the pain.

My days off are usually filled with chores and work that I do for my family and home. Seeing my rough hands makes me think of my father and how hard he would go to finish his chores. I have a similar trait and when I start something- it needs to be seen to completion.

I still get prideful doing work. Blisters and all.

Noticing Coincidences

Sometimes I feel like I’m living in a version of the Matrix. I’ve been experiencing moments in life that share coincides in unusual ways. Or I should say, I’m noticing the coincidences more.

Yesterday I was talking to a friend about Tim Burton’s Batman movies; today a rail car rolled into our yard with a Penguin graffiti mural. I love rail art and enjoy the pictures that are A little different.

The other week when I got my new iPhone, I changed my background to a Matrix theme. A few days later a new trailer for the fourth Matrix film dropped. There hadn’t been any media surrounding the movie, so my brain was a step ahead.

I’ve also been hearing the term “Making It Up As I Go” a lot lately from song lyrics to tv shows. I know I’m not the first to use the phrase, but it has been the title of my Blog for years now. It’s like when you hear or see your name in places you don’t expect it.

Do you ever notice coincidences and wonder, “Hmmm…”

Creating Ethnic Diversity Through Food

My family and I have a tendency to enjoy food and making meals. We will bbq, deep fry, oven bake, or just eat a sandwich. But many of our favorite meals come from other cultures. Specifically Asian influences.

The biggest reason for us to make food from other countries is to experience the food diversity. Oftentimes the meals also maximizes our ability to feed a family of five. Rice, pasta, vegetables, sauces and soups are a great way to spread the ingredients out.

Sometimes these meals takes us a bit longer to create. Rolling sushi is challenging, but making ramen or a poke bowl is easy. My wife also has some Turkish dishes she makes for us periodically. Using ingredients like chickpeas or eggplant is not something that I grew up with.

In fact my wife sometimes makes fun of me because if I’m making a meal that is essentially “meat and potatoes” I will forget to put in a side vegetable. That was how I grew up. Meat and potatoes. And instant or even microwaveable foods were in our cupboards. Once in a while I’ll buy some classic junk food meals: Pop tarts, KD Mac ‘n cheese, Mr. Noodles, that sort of thing.

But the one my wife hates to enjoy is fried SPAM. That salty canned meat is a guilty pleasure that most of my family enjoys. The idea of canned meat makes me think of a time when fresh food was harder to come by. But in reality it’s just a can of meat.

What sort of foods do you enjoy? Do you sample other culture’s cuisines?

Last Of The Good Weather

As the summer draws to an end, the last of the good weather is upon us. These past three months have been nothing short of amazing. A few heat waves thrown in, and a new home with a pool to enjoy the summer sun.

After an afternoon of swimming, I realized I better enjoy my evening outside before starting dinner. There’s a light breeze, a gentle sunset and a singsong of the birds. All of which I am enjoying while I write today’s blog in my hammock. After my swim, I also tossed on my pajamas to create the ultimate comfort.

I’m going to cut today’s blog short as I want to spend some time watching the clouds roll by overhead. It’s so much easier to relax without a screen in front of my face. Besides some music earlier, I haven’t touched my phone all day.

I’m at peace with the world today. It feels good.

Star Trek Day 2021

Today is Star Trek Day. Which means 55 years ago- the iconic space opera debuted on tv. That’s pretty amazing if you ask me.

I’ve watched all of the movies and majority of the shows. I’m still more of a Star Wars fan, but I do have a soft spot for Star Trek. At age 13, The Next Generation debuted and I fanboyed over it. I’m fact, my first nerd convention was a Star Trek Convention in Vancouver back in 1987. This was a whole new experience that I had no idea I was going to dive into later on in life.

I rejuvenated my love of Star Trek in 2012 when we attended our first big Comic-Con in Calgary. It was here that I saw the entire main cast of ST:TNG on stage sharing stories of yore. It brought me back to my teenage years and the nerdy boy who loved science fiction.

A few years later in Calgary I took the opportunity to meet Wil Wheaton and thanked him for being such a huge part of my youth. I’m sure he has heard that a million times before. On that date, I didn’t have any cosplay on, nor did I stand out much more than a tall adult. His response was a simple, “yeah, cool.” and brushed me off. Like they say- you should never meet your heroes.

But I still hold Start Trek in high esteem. It helped pave the way for science and technology advancements. I seriously feel as if we are halfway between science fiction and science fact when you look at the world around us. Plus Star Trek inspired numerous people to Boldly Go Where No One Has Gone Before. Pushing the limitations of man and human rights in this day and age.

On today of all days I say, “Live long and prosper.”

Colours Make Me Happy

Last night, my wife and I prepared dinner together. She had already done a bunch of the preparation work prior to my arrival home. As we worked in the kitchen- we created a beautiful ballet of coordinated movements. Not once did we get in each other’s way, or bump into one another.

Dinner was a flavorful udon noodle soup. With a soft boiled egg, sautéed mushrooms, garlic steamed carrots, seared pork, seaweed and spinach. A delicious medley of tastes that all came together in a large soup bowl.

After dinner was done, the sun was putting on a dazzling show for us in the sky. The colours mimicking the pleasure we experienced from creating and enjoying our meal. The different hues and tones shone into our kitchen creating a sense of wonderment.

Sometimes experiencing the world is akin to admiring a great painting. The views last night were absolutely awe inspiring and tranquil. A true treasure to behold.

I love the colours of the world.

The “I Do” BBQ

Yesterday afternoon, some of my friends tied the knot. They did it in a way that was special and meaningful to them. It wasn’t extravagant or lavish. The service was humble and friendly. It was exactly the kind of service you would expect from them.

First of all, it was a fairly short announcement to the wedding day. Even though Jay and Leona have been a couple for quite some time, it was just the right time to get married. The venue was at a friend’s place where they (or we if you wish) have spent many a weekend enjoying each other’s company over food and drinks.

Jay and Leona kept it low key and simple. Their friends came together to setup tents, tables, decor and made food. Even though it was raining periodically, that didn’t stop the festivities. It was essentially a large BBQ with a wedding thrown in. In fact, right after the “I Do’s” were said, the two of them got changed back into their street clothes to relax. It was wonderful that they shared their love with us and we all got to hang out.

Sometimes I think back to when I first met them. Each was in a different aspect in my life within a couple years of each other. As well, their lives intersected periodically until the universe finally linked them together.

It was a good time yesterday with loads of smiles and laughs. I wish many more years of happiness to Jay and Leona! Congratulations once more.

Lack of Kayak

This summer we have been having a great experience in the water. In fact, I’d say 90% of our summer days were spent in the water. However, that water has been just our swimming pool.

I’m not complaining. I love our backyard. All the relaxation, the floating, the serenity- it’s exactly what I needed in my life. However, my wife wished we hit the water elsewhere at least once this summer. Our kayaks have been neglected since moving into our new home.

I have three weeks left of summer to try and get out with our little boats just to say we did kayak this summer. My hope is that the weather holds up for the days off that my wife and I have together. Or perhaps a later afternoon/ early evening paddle will occur after work.

If all else fails, I’ll toss the kayak in the pool and make the best of both worlds and just go back and forth. That’s the same, right?