Wow 50 Years?

Today is “Earth Day”. And it is celebrating its 50th year since it’s first time being celebrated. I’m not gonna lie… I only started hearing about “Earth Day” a few years ago. It doesn’t mean I don’t care about this planet. It means I didn’t realize or know that there was a day devoted to it. Like a weird “Mother’s Day” for our planet, but forgotten about until it’s upon us.

I’ve generally been pretty good at “doing my part” to keep the earth healthy. Obviously I can’t be prefect because I do need those resources to keep alive and entertained. But treating this planet a bit better each day is very important.

That’s because I kind of enjoy living on this planet. I don’t think there’s many options out there at this time for moving off this planet. So please do your small part to keep this planet of ours healthy and inhabited.

Melt My Heart! Loving Cheese.

I love cheese. Something about those dairy products makes food so delicious. Grilled cheese sandwiches, shredded mozzarella on pizza, Smoked Gouda in an omelette, goat cheese on crackers… all of it unique and tasty- even Limburger (especially if soaked in beer!)

My favorite is Brie cheese. We buy those creamy wheels of softness on occasion. And it’s usually gone as soon as it’s opened. Sometimes I’ll just cut some pieces and eat it like that. Other times I’ll bake the Brie. Ok, I almost always bake the Brie. It just depends how I want it tasting. Stuffed with garlic? Mmmm… savory. Or like we did last night- brown sugar and butter with some cinnamon sprinkled on top. Soft and sweet cheese on fresh baked baguettes. Who could resist?

Tonight is grilled cheese sandwiches. Easy to make and go well with tomato soup! Lord knows we are lacking in the vegetable intake these days, so the soup will help up those numbers.

I love a good cheese. I’ll even eat “Cheese Product” like Kraft singles or Cheez whiz. The only thing I don’t like is bleu cheese. That stuff is the red headed step child of the cheese industry.

Four Twenty

As many folks stay in isolation and physical distancing, there is still a world out there that remembers celebrating life. Today is 4/20. A day for pot smokers to enjoy some freedoms.

I don’t smoke the greenery myself. Three years ago, my wife and I were on a road trip to California and we stopped in Weed California on 4/20 at 4:20. I did this as a salute to a friend who used to enjoy smoking pot, but didn’t have the energy to continue on in his life.

So Happy 4:20 Jeremy. I wish there was a better way to tell you that you are missed.

And Happy 4:20 to my many many friends who smoke. Stay safe, but do not “Pass the Dutchie” so to speak.

Clam Chowder!

After work, I came home to the smell of a delicious dinner. a dinner I haven’t had in ages. Not one that we make very often, even though it’s not very difficult to make.

My wife made clam chowder for dinner tonight. It was amazing. Bacon, onions, garlic, potatoes, clam, cream sauce, all put together in one amazing soup. But my wife did something extra for our dinner.

My wife made fresh bread bowls for our chowders. The buns were so hearty that we each filled our bread bowls a second time. And scarfed those down as well.

The dinner was so good, we ate the bowl. And my daughter let me take pictures of her. It was a Chowder Miracle! One that doesn’t come around very often. So I took full advantage of it.

I always enjoy our family meals. We have a great time talking and joking. We also like to repeat dinners that are easy and tasty at the same time. Hopefully Clam Chowder makes a reappearance in the future.

Can’t Stop Cooking and Baking

Our children are adamantly wanting to be doing more cooking and baking these days. Over the past few weeks we’ve made Pasta, Churros, and Donuts. Today, we made all of them!

We are getting better at the recipes as well. There’s still the occasional blunder- adding the butter a bit late in the churros or the donuts not rising because of old yeast. But we are still enjoying all of the splendors. My wife also made her first ever cheesecake the other day. It was delicious!

I want to start working towards some more recipes that are savory instead of sweet. Maybe learn to make my own potato chips or something. Who knows, but my deep fryer has been turning out some fantastic desserts.

Have you been baking more these days? Or trying to expand your horizons a bit? Let me know in the comments.

1.5 Lungs

It’s been a little over 40 years now. I was about two and a half when the doctors performed an upper lobectomy on my left lung. I can remember bits and pieces of the post surgery recovery. I remember waking up in the post op recovery area and staring at the ceiling at five different televisions. All of which were showing different cartoons with no sound on. This was the first time I saw Mighty Mouse, Popeye, Tom and Jerry, and Hanna Barbera. All in glorious colour and all at once.

Over the past four decades I haven’t always taken care of my health. I struggled to breathe as a child in a home where my father smoked regularly. I just kind of adapted to shallow breathing. In my early teens I had my lung capacity tested numerous times to see how I was doing and why I always felt tired. (I’m still always tired). No definitive results ever came my way.

Then there was a time, post high school, where I smoked for a few years. That I regret. It forced me to become reliant on an inhaler more frequently now.

I may seem normal on the outside, but inside I am missing a portion of my left lung. As I watch the world, I am conscious of the fact that I am more susceptible to a lung virus and would truly struggle with recovery. Although I continue to go to work, I wash my hands frequently, sanitize door handles and my work station numerous times, as well as avoid close contact with my coworkers.

But they don’t know that I am extra paranoid and selfish about my own health. I’ve worked there for nearly 13 years and many of my coworkers have no idea about the fact that I’m missing part of a lung. They don’t know that I stress about the possibility of getting sick.

On my days off, I just stay home. I spend time with my family and we have a great time. Trying out new cooking and baking recipes and lots of video games! It helps to take my mind off the fears I have inside.

Somebody Out There “Rocks”

My wife goes for a walk a couple of times a day around our neighborhood. Sometimes she detours through the trails at the nearby Steele Park. (Mostly because my wife still plays Pokémon Go and the park is a Pokéstop.) Today I joined my wife and she showed me something cute along the way.

Someone or someones have been leaving little surprises along the trails. They have been painting rocks and placing them back along the pathways. It’s lovely to see. My wife says she has fun trying to figure out if there are any new ones put out.

To whomever is doing this- thank you! It’s a pleasure to see these works of art. I’m glad my wife took me to see them as well. Such a simple idea, and I love that they just leave them out in the wooded area.

Sweet Sixteen in Social Isolation

Today is our daughter’s sixteenth birthday. Unfortunately with the world being the way it is, we are unable to make this birthday an extravagant one. The plan was to take her out to get her “L” so that she could begin to learn driving. We would also have gone for dinner at our favorite sushi restaurant- Nikko Sushi- but it’s just not in the cards for today.

And that’s totally fine. Because we have our health. And we have our memories of her previous birthdays. Each of them unique in their own way.

One year we took her to Build-A-Bear. Another time she was on an airplane flying back from Hawaii. We’ve been in the car on a road trip to another province. We’ve been at a few different conventions. A couple of times we went out bowling. One time she was competing at a Cheer competition.

But my favorite memories were spent at home. Where we made her a cake, gave her gifts that were created with love, and did the things she wanted to do. Like watch a movie or play a game. This year is no different. There is a great joy that we share in being home as a family.

So today, as our daughter celebrates her 16th Birthday, the sun will be shining down on her as she fills our lives with happiness.

Happy 16th Birthday Darwin!

Back to…. School?

Okay. Self isolation is still happening in British Columbia. Easter Weekend has ended and the teachers at our school will be working on remote learning with the students. In our home, we have the “scheduled online class meetings” written on our calendar for each of our kids.

There are many different programs and apps that the teachers are planning to use in order to assist the kids get some form of education. It’s a crazy learning curve for everyone involved. Not just the teachers and students, but the parents who need to try and be a big part of this new adventure.

I for one don’t want to have a generation of stupid roaming the earth once the self isolation and quarantines are lifted. I want the students to still get an education. My wife and I are going to do our best to alleviate the strain on the teachers and our kids by being active in their learning. I’m not saying we haven’t been a part of their education, far from it. I’m saying that we are still having to evolve and learn with our kids.

Hopefully when all is said and done the kids will have learned something. Or perhaps they will have taught us something in the process. But for now, School’s Back In Session.

Recognizing The Helpers

As the Corona Virus fills our newsfeeds, it can feel overwhelming. I try and read the articles that are uplifting or of moral benefit. I’m glad to see folks sharing stories of helping or supporting one another.

Mr. Rogers was a wise man.

Hearing the daily 7pm pots and pans clattering from our neighbors, or the car horns, boat and train whistles while out in the streets brings a smile to my heart. It shows that people are appreciating our care workers that much more during times of crisis.

I read a status the other day and it got me thinking. The status was this (minus some of the negativity): “Next year I don’t want to hear about the Oscar, Grammys, Tonys or Golden Globes. I don’t want to see a single actor, actress, singer, celebrity or sports person on any red carpet.

Next year I want to see nurses, doctors, ambulance crews, health care support workers, shop workers and truck drivers, all essential workers, grocery store workers having free red carpet parties with awards and expensive goodie bags.”

This is a great sentiment, however unrealistic. There will be no televised show for these workers. Perhaps the celebrities or sports person will take to their soap box and say something. It will cause raucous applause and then the event will continue with some jokes until the next award winner takes to the stage and says something of similar merit. It’s a puppet song and dance that we have witnessed for years now. Perhaps these award shows are the “Normal” that people are craving now.

Or is the “Normal” that people want the desire to spend money- be a good consumer. Perhaps we should reflect on this time we have now and create a “New Normal” when all is said and done. Sure, I want to travel and go shopping and spend time in restaurants. But that’s only because I’m being told I can’t. It’s ingrained in our psyche to question everything and fight against being told “No”.

I’m at home as often as I can be. I’m saving money. My house feels like a home once more. My kids are learning how to cook and bake (and enjoying it). My wife and I are talking about more than just the daily routine struggles- we are connecting. The world seems calmer, cleaner and somehow nature is content. Wild animals are roaming a bit freer and pollution is down. A part of me wants this aspect of Covid19 to remain. This unbeknownst harmony that was created.

Back to my point. As we Physically Distance and Self Quarantine, we need to recognize those people risking their health and well being. Thank you to those that are working hard to keep our families safe and allow us to have food on our table. I don’t have a red carpet or an awards show. But I hope that as each person shares kind words, you know who you are and how much you are needed. I also hope that the world creates a “New Normal” and your actions stay in the forefront of our minds.

Prepare For The Apocalypse

The sun was shining once more today. I took a lazy day of nothingness. I woke up late and even procured a nap. Afterwards I decided to get active. Last year I set up an Axe Throwing pitch. It was time to get chucking once more.

My first throw of the year wasn’t too bad. Heck, I even dressed the part of a lumberjack with my beard and plaid jacket. I must’ve thrown for about thirty minutes as I listened to some Beastie Boys on my iPhone.

Afterwards, my daughter joined me, as did my son. They took turns throwing axes at the target. It took them a bit to get the technique down once more. But they started hitting the target more often than not.

We are getting some good exercise in on a beautiful day. Plus it’ll prepare us in the event of an apocalypse!

More At Home Time

Today was another day spent at home. I will say though, I’m really enjoying the fact that our house is feeling like a home once more. The family has pulled together and been a great help over the past few weeks.

We’ve done tons of cleaning inside already. The weather was beautiful today, so it was spent gardening. The kids helped tremendously today. I’m really satisfied with the results.

As we were working, my favorite brewery delivered some beers to our home. Within an hour of my order, they were at my door with a much desired beer for the weekend. Big thanks to Trading Post for the backyard beers!

For a break afterwards, the kids had some free time to do what they wanted. What they wanted to do was surprising to me. Our son played trumpet outside on the tree deck. Our oldest daughter did some painting on her canvases and our youngest read a book. Afterwards the four of us worked together and baked an apple pie. So amazing!

What a great life to live. Even in solitude.

Putting the Fun in Funeral

Facebook reminded me of my first ever tagged photo.

The picture is of my father’s gravestone. It got me thinking, especially with everything going on in the world, about my funeral. No, I’m not being morbid. I’m thinking about how my service would go. I’d start it off with Dead by Korn. The song has some bagpipes in it that go back to my Scottish roots on my mother’s side.

Click on the image to hear the song “Dead” by Korn

“All I want in life is to be happy (happy) All I want in life is to be happy (happy) All I want in life is to be happy (happy) All I want in life is to be happy (happy)
It seems funny to me
How fucked things can be
Everytime I get ahead
I feel more dead”

It’s a pretty accurate song about life. I’d like to be playing “All I want in life is to be happy” on repeat very silently during the service.

As the final song to say farewell to me in that day, I’d like to have playing is Just a Man by Faith No More. I love the climax of the song and his voice is gospel at times. It would be a prefect send off. Here is a link to the live performance: Faith No More 1997.

What are your funeral songs? Is it tough to think about your own mortality?

Happiness Passed On

Our children have been junior coaches for only a short time. Yesterday one of the parents who help volunteer at our club, dropped off a small gift for them. Our middle daughter was blown away by the gesture. She shared this on her Instagram:

“It’s little moments, little moments of everyday. Little moments like now, like today. The simple little things that make up a bigger entity. The entity of life. Little moments are everything to me. Little bursts of happiness, of joy. The cheers of teammates as you do a race, the unstoppable smiles of finally reaching your goal. Support and love. My favourite moments are the moments I spend here. I love watching the kids improve. Each moment changing everything. Each practice. Every second counts, every second matters to me. I love the smiles that sneak on their faces and they can’t make disappear, the jokes, the hard work. My favourite moments are the ones I spend here, with them. Helping them in any way that I can. My favourite part is when it all pays off and you can see how they’re proud of themselves and want you to see their achievements. My favourite moments are the moments I spend with you. It makes me happy to see that you feel the same way too, you never have to do this although it’s nice to feel appreciated. But you can’t appreciate me as much as I appreciate you. Thank you. Thank you so much. Keep making these little moments with me every time. I miss you all and can’t wait for next season to see you improve even more!”

I was extremely touched by her words. She definitely takes after her father in promoting positivity. That’s a great quality to have. It’s no wonder she, as well as her brother and sister, have become such great leaders and coaches. I’m really proud of all of them for the hard work they put in every time they are on the ice trying to help others.

Great job gang! And a big thanks to Langley Blades for all the years of skating.

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.