Drinking Theme Song

I turned legal drinking age March 1995. This meant I could go to the clubs and bars without much hassle. This gave me a chance to rock out my killer dance moves… Of which I had none.

A few beers into me, and I’d bust a move. Poorly. I grew up in the 80’s and 90’s MTV generation- where songs came with dances. People did their best to mimic and copy them. I more enjoyed memorizing song lyrics. This has come in handy on long road trips when we listened to Sirius XM 90’s On 9…

The one song that has stuck with me is “Cotton Eye Joe” by Rednex. It came out the year I was 19. It kinda became my theme song as I started to hit the bar scene. A catchy song that everyone can sing along to. Even my kids sing along to it these days.

As for dance moves- easy. Just dance like a Hillbilly. Do some square dancing or swing your legs and arms wildly. With my long legs and arms, I could look like this:

Everyone looked at drunken me as such a clown anyways. Lately, I’ve been tempted to go for dance lessons with my wife. We don’t go to nightclubs, but perhaps some ballroom dancing. I think it could be fun. Who knows, maybe one day we will.

What’s your go-to dance or song?

Back To Basics

Yesterday I got to do something at work I haven’t done in ages. I was able to be the conductor on a train from North Vancouver to Squamish and back again. I don’t usually get asked to help out, so it was a refreshing break from my usual office work.

I was also lucky enough to be with an engineer that was a pleasure to work with. That made the ride more relaxing and enjoyable. Years ago I would work as a conductor taking this train up and down along the west coast. Not every experience was a good one. Especially in the winter.

This route is one of the most scenic routes I know of in North America to take by rail. During the summer months, The Rocky Mountaineer passenger train also takes this trip. For those of you who like trains- the Rocky Mountaineer is like taking a cruise by rail. It also costs about the same. Seeing the beautiful landscape along British Columbia is worth it in my opinion.

My job is pretty amazing at times, that’s for sure. I’m really lucky to be able to have the experiences I do. In the end, it’s all about how you perceive the workload that makes a job worthwhile.

Last Minute Date Night

I was about to leave work when my wife sent me a text:

My suggestions of fast food didn’t seem to sway her decision from still meeting me.

So instead of me driving home, after a long day at work, to vegetate before bed; I met up with my wife for a couple beers and a pub style dinner at a place called Mission Springs Brewery.

We were seated out on the patio at a deck couch. A flight of beers and some crazy delicious burgers were enjoyed. We felt youthful again as we giggled and flirted like we did when we had just begun dating. No one else was sitting on the patio, so we felt like we were being treated like celebrities- Off in a comfortable corner, but with people still able to see us from inside.

The evening had cooled off nicely. Our meal was enjoyed as we watched the sunset in peace. This was the evening my wife had wanted. –NOT KFC

I’m glad I was able to accommodate. I enjoyed our spontaneous date.

Barefoot

What is wrong with me these days? I’m choosing to not wear shoes more often. That is not me at all.

At home- I am loving the feel of the moss underfoot. Or the sense of the wood floor and carpet inside my home.

The other evening I walked around the block on the warm pavement barefooted as well. I had simply forgotten that I should put on shoes when I left my house. I only noticed when I stepped on a pebble. But by then, I was too far gone from the house to turn around. And our dog was happily trotting beside me- I couldn’t force him to stop his walk.

On Wednesday, I dipped my feet into the Hayward Lake. It was so warm and refreshing. The sensation I experienced as I sat on the dock watching the sun go down was tranquil and mesmerizing.

The one thing I’ve noticed about being barefoot, is that every step taken is giving me a unique feel of the earth. With each barefoot step, the contrasts underfoot brings me a sense of well being and calmness as well as a connection to the world.

Is this what it was like to be a hippie back in the 60’s?

You know, they may have been onto something. I’m feeling youthful and fun again.

08/08/80

Today is my sister’s birthday.

We don’t see each other much. In fact- only about once a year when I go over to her place. Which is pretty good honestly. We’ve kind of grown apart over the years. Which is also okay. Life just does things like that.

I’m about four and half years older than her. When we were kids, we were pretty good friends. We would put on puppet shows together, walk home from school together, swim together, watch the same cartoons together. (I kinda like My Little Pony I wouldn’t tell my friends that at the time.) At Christmas, I’d assemble the Barbie toys that she’d get. I was a good big brother.

Pretty sure she’s going to kill me for sharing these lovely photos…

As we grew up into our teenage years, we were still friends-ish. I still looked out for her to an extent. Except once….

On my 17th birthday, we headed out on the bus towards the mall. She hopped off at a stop to visit a friend as I went on my way.

I came home later that evening around dinner. No one was home but the phone was ringing. It was my father. As we spoke, my heart sank. My sister had been hit by a truck. She was airlifted to the hospital.

My 17th birthday was spent in the hospital waiting room, hoping for good news. Seeing her beat up and broken, I had never wanted someone to live as much as I did for her that day. That was one of the hardest things I have ever faced.

Luckily, she survived.

Our family did not.

My father blamed me for the accident. He told me so. That’s hard for a 17 year old to deal with. But I’ve moved past that now. My sister and I have had our differences over the years, but we never talk about her accident. We keep that tucked away behind a hardship we endured.

My sister has a great personality. Even if I do think she’s crazy. One Christmas she gave me a t-shirt that said “Nikki’s Brother” because she was tired of being called Joe’s Sister. I wore that shirt for over twenty years until it finally crumbled.

My sister is one of the kindest individuals you will ever meet. She always has a smile and a laugh ready at a moment’s notice. She’s a wonderful mother who works hard to give her children the best life possible. She’s active in her community and I swear- she knows everyone in Powell River.

I want to wish my sister a great big “Happy Birthday!” You’ve made it this far- may you celebrate 38 more years of insanity if not more!

And ALWAYS look both ways before crossing the street.

Game On!

Monday was a stat holiday which also meant “Game Day” at our home. Ok, not because it was a holiday- our kids are off for summer as it is, but we had a “Game Day” just because.

My wife and I often start our day by playing an old N64 game- Pokémon Puzzle League on the Wii in our bedroom. She loses pretty regularly at it. I’m not sure why she keeps wanting to play, but it’s kind of our thing. So I keep playing.

Since the weather is nice, I’m trying to get the kids not to play so many video games or be on their iPhones and iPads. A difficult task when they see mom and dad lazing in bed playing video games…

So I offered to hang with the kids throughout the day. We have a large collection of board games and tabletop games hidden away in an ottoman. Yesterday we decided to play a couple of these games outside.

First choice was Monopoly. Our oldest prides herself in kicking butt every time. This was no exception. I think she only won because we use the center of the board for the taxes incurred throughout the game and “Free Parking” as the winning spot to get those dolla bills- yo! (As the hip kids say…)

Just before dinner we played Settlers of Catan. I am viciously good at this game. I have an almost Rain Man ability to watch the cards being issued and played by each opponent. I’m also good at figuring out people’s strategies on the board. Needless to say- I killed it last night!

We ended our evening by watching “Ready Player One” as a family. Recently, a few people I know online have been mentioning the novel, so it was fresh in my mind. (Check out Cole Campfire Blog sometime for some outdoor inspiration.) Since four of the five of us in the family had read the novel, and my two youngest had already seen the film- it was an easy choice for family movie night. Clearly, the movie is not like the novel- a bit disappointing- but fun to watch nonetheless.

Our impromptu game day was a ton of fun and a good way to connect as a family.

Slacker Sunday

My Sunday was a bit hazy for me. So I’m glad I took some photos. I don’t usually have days like that. I had finished a set of four night shifts with a few rough days of sleep in between because of the warm weather. On Sunday morning, I came home and grabbed a quick four hours of sleep before hanging with the family.

We headed out for a late lunch in Fort Langley at “The Trading Post“. I grabbed a flight of four beers and sampled a raspberry, blueberry, citrus, and an ipa. My wife enjoyed a glass of raspberry beer. Lunch consisted of sharing some yam fries, farmer’s poutine and falafel bites. Very tasty tidbits that’s for sure.

Afterwards we walked around Fort Langley and did a part of the “Fort to Fort Trail“. We watched a couple of trains go by and I waved to my coworkers. On our way back to the car, we walked up a pedestrian overpass as another train went by underneath. Ya, I know what you’re thinking- Joe’s a foamer- but the railroad runs right along Fort Langley. I think those that live there must like trains as well since they live alongside the tracks.

When we got home, each of us took a siesta. I hit the hammock outside and woke up with the worst attack of allergies I’ve had all season. At least we were all sufficiently rested for dinner. Our daughter had brought home from her work some salmon filets. This is pronounced Fill Lit, not Fill Lay according to our fish monger daughter (I learned something new). It was deliciously cooked over the bbq by her as well. She is becoming quite the chef as she grows up.

By the time dinner was done, I was still in a haze and was barely functioning. Even my couple of naps throughout the day weren’t helping. I just needed to catch up on real sleep and hope for my allergies to scram. Being exhausted isn’t fun.

I’m glad we got some photos throughout the day to help me remember it.

The Cookie Conspiracy

I bought a bag of chocolate chip cookies last week. It’s not something that I normally do. In fact, it’s usually a once a year occurrence. We tend to bake cookies instead- mostly in the winter. So this bag of cookies was a spontaneous purchase.

I don’t even like store bought cookies that much. They taste fake. These ones especially since they are not a “brand name” cookie. All I really wanted was one cookie. Which brings me to our story.

My wife wasn’t happy that I bought the bag. So she told everyone that we were saving it for our camping trip later this month. I didn’t really mind, so I put the unopened bag of cookies in the cupboard. Out of sight- out of mind. No big deal.

So a week passes. My younger daughter calls my wife to ask if she can have a cookie. My wife says, if the bag is open- you can have one. Knowing that the bag hasn’t been opened. My wife comes home after to discover a row of cookies GONE!

When asked of our children, “Who opened the cookies?” None of them admitted to it. So my wife and I did some investigating. We asked numerous questions to try and discover the culprit. We had some suspicions. But we ended up being wrong.

Turns out all three were guilty of taking cookies. They formed a criminal alliance of siblings!

Play Nice

There’s too much anger in the world. That it makes me sad.

I have found lately, that as much as I try to ignore it, people are very vocal about their opinions. To a point where they stop listening and just do talking.

I want to be open minded about people’s opinions on politics, religion, money, entertainment, and even life. Just because I am open minded, doesn’t mean I need to agree with one stance or another. It means I can accept that we have a difference of opinion, but remain respectful of it.

Anyways, don’t get angry with someone just because they don’t share the same beliefs as you. Get angry at them for not using coasters under their drink glasses. That is unacceptable.

Dad’s Drawer

In the bottom drawer of my bureau there lies a couple of sweaters.

Underneath those sweaters- the drawer is filled with an abundance of hand made gifts given to me from my children over the years. I finally decided to show my treasures to them the other day. My kids had no idea I kept it all.

A few of these items had no names or dates on them. My kids ended up arguing over who gave me what. But even some of the ones that had their names on- they didn’t always remember making for me. The biggest surprise for me after showing them my collection, was the joy it brought to their faces. They lit up as if they were in preschool again, excited to be handing me a gift made with love by their tiny hands.

To me, these gifts are mementos of love. They are a story of how my children look up to me. Years later, saving these odds and ends shows my children that I cherish the time and effort they put into creating pieces of art. Every Father’s Day, every birthday, every life changing event- these small tokens given to me mean so much.

I don’t think my children know how much my heart cries as I watch them grow. They aren’t always going to remain innocent kids. They are growing up. Being able to look back and reminisce with a duct tape wallet or handmade pottery is invaluable to me.

Maybe in another ten to fifteen years, I shall open the drawer again and share my keepsakes with them once more. And as I do- I’ll see in their faces the youngsters they once were; looking back up at me as the father I once was.