Playing 78’s

Today marks what would’ve been my father’s 78th birthday. Over the years I have not been too kind in sharing memories of him. This year I am going to do my best to share a couple of bittersweet experiences instead.

In the past I have gone to visit his grave and enjoyed a Molson Canadian beer in his honor. That was the beer of choice by my father. I remember the stale scent of Rothman’s cigarettes and beer emanating from his beard as I grew up. It was a very distinct odor on evenings and weekends that only my father possessed.

During the day, he would have the aroma of Halls Lozenges mixed in with the scent of Cigarettes. He always had a package in his car and would pop one in his mouth from time to time. They sat in the change holder near the car stereo. After unwrapping one of the square candies, he would bunch up the waxed paper into tight little balls while a song played on the radio. At the end of the song, he would place the tiny paper balls into the car’s ashtray. It was an odd habit, but one that was distinctly his.

I never knew my father to enjoy music the way I do. In September of 1981 he did buy a brand new stereo from Sears. Perhaps as a birthday gift to himself since he rarely wished to celebrate birthdays in group settings. The JVC LXI came in numerous large metallic framed pieces. A set of oversized 12” subwoofers, an amplifier, tape deck, radio and record player. I was with him when he purchased it from the local Sears in Edmonton. We brought it home and he set it up in the dining room on the china cabinet. Where it would remain until we moved.

I remember that once it was set up, he put on a record and I sat directly in front of one of the speakers to listen to the music. I was five at the time and just amazed at the magic behind how it worked. After a few hours, my father made me wear some headphones instead and turned off the speakers.

For the remaining few years in Edmonton, my mother would put on her “Highland records” and sing her Scottish songs. Occasionally ABBA would be put on the turntable (I think that’s where my love of disco originated). I was never allowed to touch the records in fear that I would scratch them. As well, my records were only permitted on my children’s plastic record player- not the high end one that my dad purchased.

Looking back on that purchase, I realized my father didn’t do it for himself. He did it for my mother… and in a way for me. I became entranced by music that wasn’t just learning my ABC’s. I fell in love with all genres and memorized numerous song lyrics as I grew up. The only music my father would listen to was the radio on his commute. No cassettes or records were ever played by him in our home.

Nowadays, in my home, music is always being played throughout the house. I set up speakers in every room, and we play music that keeps us all entertained. The family sometimes argues over what to listen to, because they don’t always want to listen to disco… but that’s okay. We all enjoy the fact that music brings us together.

Perhaps now my father listens to his collection of 78’s in the afterlife. Keeping his emotions to himself like he always did. His bits of sharing while he was alive was minimal, but effectual. I always thought he liked Elvis because of the records he owned, but I could be wrong.

That’s my story about my father and how he inadvertently created my love of music. Happy Birthday Dad.

From Fails to Finished

Yesterday I set up a workspace for the 3D Printer I received the other day. Actually, my wife allowed me to use a small corner of her studio where she makes her wonderful hats. Check out her website- Ningen Headwear for some great winter hats!

I spent a good couple of hours leveling the bed, installing software on our computer, and getting a couple of designs ready to print. The first test design was a thank you to my wife for use of her space. She had made some face masks and wanted one of these to try out. It was technically “Headwear” related- Surgical Mask Strap. I figured it was an easy print and wouldn’t take very long.

Boy was I wrong.

After about half a dozen failed attempts just starting, I eventually got a print that was not at all what it was meant to be. It was missing some layers. Back to the Internet and YouTube to figure out my issue. Turns out I hadn’t set the proper parameters for my brand of printer.

A couple tweaks and we had a successful first print! Followed by two more successes! I could really get addicted to this feeling of accomplishment. But now I am out of my spool of plastic. Time to wait for the Amazon order to arrive. During that time, I plan on getting some more files downloaded and ready to print.

I see how this could become a love/hate relationship with a 3D printer.

Spotty Wifi

Today it seemed that our wifi suddenly went spotty. No reason at all. It just decided to crap out and reconnect. I love being connected to the world, so those three minutes were really tough. There were also tough because they happened a few times.

Since getting Google Nest wifi we have rarely had issues. We also upgraded our internet plan a couple of weeks back in order to get us faster speeds and connect more devices. So it was strange that our wifi was choosing not to connect.

Restarts all around! All devices and routers. Seems like our problem was just as simple as Turning it off and on again.

Yay! Time to stream more shows!

Vacation Feels

It’s nearing the end of summer. It’s the final push to enjoy ourselves. I am also starting eleven days of vacation. That means time away from work, which is great to recharge the mental batteries. Even though we may not be traveling to a favorite destination.

We are still planning on having a good time as a family. Tonight we made smoked turkey legs and watched some “Disney Park Blogs” YouTube videos during dinner.

Of course we all wore our Mouse Ears! Because who knows when the next time we will be attending a Disney Park again… But the feels needed to come out. The ears brought forth joy, laughter and memories.

I’m ready to have a great time with my family during staycation. British Columbia is the next best place to be next to Disneyland! Especially if you get to share moments with loved ones.

Buster Poindexter Kind of Hot

The past few days have been the hottest I ever remember experiencing. As if the world decided all at once that it was time to crank the thermostat and break the switch at the same time.

It’s perpetually hot now. Yes, summer is nice, I’m not trying to complain. But give us those perfect summer days with a cool summer night. Not habanero heat hovering heavily all around. It’s just unpleasant.

I ventured out of my air conditioned office a couple of times the past couple of days at work. The wall of heat hit hard. So hard that I used “H” alliteration twice in this blog.

Sleeping in this heat is difficult as well. You lay down with no covers enjoying the fan. Inching closer and closer to the cool air blowing at your body. On the verge of falling off the bed in hopes to cool your feet down at the very least. Or so I imagine it to be.

Our home doesn’t get warmer than 24°C on a hot day. The abundance of trees shade our home. The brick work keeps it trapped inside.

It’s just stepping outside that sucks. It’s too damn HOT HOT HOT.

Country Living for Convenience?

I cannot get enough of living in the country. Being on the outskirts of the suburbs, we own an acre of land. Filled with trees and plenty of space to relax. We are only a few minutes away from accessing major routes to get into cities and local shopping. Our privacy and peace make all the difference to my mental well being.

Visiting a friend over the weekend, I also appreciate that we don’t have a farm to maintain. Not that they do, they just rent a house on that land. But their privacy and views are also amazing.

My wife and I discuss on a regular basis the idea of moving in the future once the kids are all done high school. But we both want something different it seems. I still want some privacy and space. She wants connivence to walk to shopping and have less land to maintain. Both of us want bigger and better bathrooms and a kitchen. Newer would also be nicer.

Until our son reaches his final year of school in three years, it’s tough to discuss plans. I honestly think we will remain where we are for at least another decade, if not longer. So I feel we should do some work around the house to update it so that we can enjoy it before someone else does.

Having inner peace is important to me. I’m not sure I’m ready to trade it for convenience.

Allergic to Friday

My day off was completely wasted on a bunch of nothingness. Sure I played about two hours of video games with my wife this morning. Afterwards I helped the kids with some yardwork for about thirty minutes before the weather turned. I also dyed my daughter’s hair for her. But that was it.

Allergies kicked my butt today. Probably due to the change in air pressure and the rain mixing with pollen. But I had all these ideas to make some tasty treats while the weather was poor. Instead I took some allergy medicine and promptly went to bed. For a few hours…

Now I’m awake and it’s almost dinner time. My wife will be done working shortly and she’ll ask what I did all day. I can’t lie to her… because she works from home and knows exactly what I did today. It’s a silly game having her ask me that question. Honestly, I’m just unmotivated and will be looking forward to going back to bed tonight- hoping that my allergies will be better tomorrow.

Oh, and sorry about the “Bear Memes” I was too lazy to add any real substance to my story today. And pandas are always cute when they’re lazy. So I’m hoping my laziness is also cute. I barely (or should I write “bearly”? ) wanted to even blog.

I hate allergies.

DIY Dads

My friend Greg is a lot like me. He is always on the go with new projects and building stuff. Recently he began a project that was a far bigger undertaking than I think I could handle. But I’m impressed with his skills and the work done so far.

On Saturday I stopped by to offer some help. I was also curious to see how the project was going. He and his wife were given a travel trailer that needed a bit of work. There was a few bad spots where some leaking had occurred.

Instead of just throwing some duct tape and caulking on it, Greg peeled back the layers and began the challenge of fixing the trailer- from the frame out. What he has done so far is throughly impressive. He is hoping to have the outside of the trailer back together by fall. At the pace he is going, I imagine it to be completed.

Our buddy Matt has also been helping Greg along the way. Something about Dads and power tools… Building and creating makes us feel like providers you our families. Plus it’s fun to see sparks fly.

I now know that if I have a big project to do, I will summon the DAD PROJECT POWERS of Greg to assist me. I can already think of a project that will need his help.

BC Day

When you live in an amazing province in one of the greatest countries, it’s hard to not be proud. With today being BC Day it’s just one more reason to celebrate living here.

I love sharing my adventures around the province here on my blog. With thousands of photos and hundreds of stories told, I didn’t know what to share. Instead I’ll be watching my friends as their share their photos and follies on Instagram.

So get out there and enjoy this wonderful province of ours. It’s no wonder they call it Beautiful British Columbia.

Tackling The Dragon’s Lair

Today was spent relaxing at home, aka: Castle Havelka. I made some pretzel bites and a couple of the kids helped clean the homestead. It felt good.

In the afternoon a friend of mine stopped by. He brought over a case of beer and we were shooting the breeze while our sons played some video games. My buddy and I had a great evening just hanging out.

It was nice to be a couple of guys hanging out. No talk of work. A bit about family. But mostly just being us. A few good cracks at one another, and a lot of memories over a case of Dragon’s Lair Beer.

We took on the Dragon and killed it. And it was tasty. I will definitely Storm the dragon’s lair again.

Summer Cooking

It’s so hot these days that it is difficult to want to cook dinner. Making the kitchen extra hot using the stove or oven is unbearable. Even getting out at the grill is tough. The heat and humidity makes for a challenging cookout.

The other day, my son was grilling over the open flames. Even I didn’t want to hang out by the fire as it was a sweaty evening already. But he did pretty well at his first attempt at open flame cooking. I stayed in the kitchen to make some guacamole stuffed potato skins as a side dish. Those were equally as tasty!

But we needed to eat quickly while it was still hot out. It has become apparent that once it begins to cool off outside- the ‘Skeeters come out. Nothing like getting eaten alive while eating.

Sitting outside is generally pretty nice. We eat on the back deck at least 9 months out of the year. Getting through these excessive hot spells and mosquitoes is the only complaint I have about summer. That, and I hate Sweating.

Long Day Went By Fast

Today was one of those strange anomaly days. Where it was really long, but went by quickly. I woke up at 8am, suddenly it was 3pm and I had forgotten about lunch.

We had now entered that awkward time of day where it’s too late to start something, but also too early to start something. So the next few hours meandered by. I didn’t even try for a nap to pass the time. What is wrong with me?

Then it was 6:30pm and dinner needed to be made. The day was on the verge of being over. Because once dinner was done, we were likely to watch a movie to end our night.

I have lots of plans for around the house. Tomorrow is a full day of little projects. I am also wanting to watch a movie or two- the sort of films my wife isn’t a fan of. But tomorrow will be another busy day and feel like it is going slowly until the mad rush at the end.

Bugs Be Gone

This summer is one of the worst for mosquitoes. Every year I complain about them.

I use bug repellent and sprays every night. Because we like to sit outside for dinner, we also use area spray to try and prevent the bugs from bothering us. I don’t overly like the sprays as it affects my asthma. I really don’t have a choice though or I’ll be super itchy.

We have a bug zapper outside the door as well. The occasional ZOT or BZZT sound makes me giggle each time. Does hearing the little bit of death make me a psycho?

We also have a bug catcher in our kitchen. Trying to keep those annoying fruit flies at bay. As well as any other mosquitos that may arrive inside our home.

How do you deal with the bugs this time of year?

That Old Guy Didn’t Tell Me To Get Off His Lawn

Last night I stepped over a fence into my neighbor’s yard. Only on occasion have I gone over to talk with him. We wave at one another and have brief conversations. But yesterday I saw him sitting alone and decided to go over for a talk.

Last weekend he lay some concrete, put up a gazebo to the side of his yard and set up a standing swing inside. Turns out my building of the Front Porch a few weeks back inspired his wife to want a swing and a place to relax as well. Sorry Bob.

So I sat down and we shared stories. He told me about his career as a pilot. How he flew in a plane that broke the sound barrier, not once, not twice, but on three separate occasions. He’d worked on movies and even landed on icebergs to do measurements. But he was more interested in my job working with trains.

As the night went on, he told me of buying the land and building his home in 1972. The same time my father-in-law was building his house- the one we now live in. And he told me about my wife growing up. My wife was two years old when the house was first built.

I’ve mentioned Bob and how extremely neighbourly he is: Donating Wood and how he can be regimented in his routines: Determination. What I like about Bob is that he is genuine. For an 87 year old, he is also very active and busy.

That’s what I want to be like when I grow up.

Bathtub Blues

After my time away with my wife on our anniversary, I think I need more bathtub time. We have a tub in our main bathroom, but haven’t used it since we had to wash toddlers. We now have teenagers who use all the hot water in the walk in shower downstairs.

This is our tub. Not very appealing. Can you believe this tub was cleaned two weeks ago? Turns out the cold water has a leaky washer. The hard water we have from our well is making the pipes and tap corroded. Hence why no one uses the tub (except occasionally to rinse hair dye out).

We have an exceptionally large main bathroom. Upgrading the tub and fixtures has been a plan since we bought our home Thirteen Years Ago! I think that after all these years, and the ugliness dripping out of the walls, it is time to get a tub that we can enjoy once more.

Question is- do we install a “Soaker Tub” or a “Jacuzzi” style? Perhaps a two person tub for my wife and I to enjoy once the kids move out? Or do I just buy a new washer and fixtures and call it done?

Of course I want to DIY the heck out of this project! I love the feeling of getting a project like this done. I’m sure that the cost would put weigh the time exponentially. But…

But… spelled backwards is Tub. Let’s do this before more “buts” come forth. Get some butts in a tub again!

Camping at Home

Our middle child has the right idea. Since we came home from camping last week she decided to set up the tent in our backyard.

Having a yard with a park like setting is my favorite part about not living in the suburbs or city. I sit out on one of our four decks on a regular basis to just enjoy the country life. Almost every one of our meals is had on our covered deck. Since installing the Porch Swing in our front yard, I have spent more time out there after a day at work.

Our tree deck is still my favorite of all the decks we have. The family is utilizing it more frequently as well since I added the deck chairs and lights. It also happens to be where the tent got set up for the past week. Our daughter has been the only one sleeping out there. Except yesterday when I disappeared into the tent for a nap.

The peace and quiet was thoroughly enjoyable. As it always is in our park like setting.

Upcycled Growler Caddy

My wife and I have enjoyed traveling around British Columbia and collecting beer growlers along the way. I like the majority of the artwork that accompanies the Craft Breweries- along with the beers. We have gathered quite the collection of growlers over the years.

Today I finally made a growler carrier. I wanted to get one ages ago, but most only carry two growlers at a time. I wanted a larger one that can carry three of these 1.89ml (64oz) bottles. That makes it easier to transport them around.

There was a couple of old cupboard doors in our storage made of tongue and groove cedar wood. Easy to cut and put back together in a new shape. I also had an old closet dowel rod for the handle.

It took me a couple of hours to pull apart the doors and put everything back together. Here’s a secret- I only cut the two sides a bit shorter as the rest fit nicely together. The two doors had boards holding them together that I cut in half and made spacers for the growlers. A bit of sanding, some wood glue and a nail gun finished off my project. Because the dowel was so long, I decided to trim it down on one end to hold 4 small beer glasses. I figure that if I don’t like that part, I can always cut it off.

Now I’m ready to take this out for BBQs and camping! Plus it’ll be easier to get the growlers filled each time, as they won’t roll around my car anymore.

I love making stuff and repurposing items that would normally be disposed of. My holder may not be perfect, but it does the job it needs to do- carry my beers.

Fresh And Fruity

We have so much fresh fruit in our yard! I love it.

In the very back of our yard, there is salmonberries. Which just so happen to be ready for consumption! We also have a bunch of huckleberry bushes throughout the yard. Once they are ready, the kids load up on them.

This year, I discovered our cherry trees are producing fruit. It’s been a couple of years since they did. I’m looking forward to enjoying them. Our pear tree is also producing an abundance of fruit which should be ready in a few weeks.

We had a plum tree- but it ended up being diseased and had to get cut down. Those plums were juicy! As well, we used to have an apple tree, but alas it fell over one year in a storm. I have since planted a new apple tree a couple years ago- this time with four different types of apples infused into the branches. Currently I only get an apple on each branch, but one day- variety!

Do you have fruit trees or bushes that you grow? Summer is the best for walking the garden and eating right if the limb.

Upcycle To A Greenhouse

Last year when I Built a set of doors, I had removed the old sliding glass door and set it aside. It was pretty massive, with each panel being four feet wide. Today I finally began to do something about them. I made a mini greenhouse.

I had my son as a helper once more as we measured out some boards for the frame. I figured we could make a TARDIS shaped greenhouse. Just the right size to get some of the plants started.

These boards came from our old deck that was in front of the old sliding glass door. We ripped that deck out in 2014. Many of these board have been used for projects such as an Axe Throwing Target. I kept the long ones just in case. Today they became the frame of the mini greenhouse. I also added an old busted sliding window for the roof. That way it can be opened to allow airflow.

All that’s left is adding a door and maybe some painting of the boards. If I can find a small can of blue paint- you know I’ll be making a TARDIS door! It’s fun being a Whovian. Pretty sure my wife will be okay with that idea.

I think she will also appreciate this Great Glass Elevator in our garden.

Squeak Squeaken

The other day I was curious if I could befriend some of the wildlife that lurks in our neighborhood. Particularly the squirrels. They looked like they were having such fun running and chasing one another all the time. Plus they bounce up and down all cute like. What’s not to love?

I noticed the little rascals were getting into our bird feeder and had successfully knocked it onto the ground one night. So I used some birdseed to entice them to get closer to me. It started with a small pile by a tree that they like to climb. Then after a bit I began to put some seed in a leather glove and laid it down on our deck.

Three of the squirrels began to show up closer to our home. They ran past me a few times and we’re becoming more courageous about approaching me. It’s been a couple of years since the cute furry Wildlife has come up to our house.

I even named the squirrels. Jimmy James, El Gato, and Samson. JJ is the lazy one on the fence. El Gato is the female who acts like a cat about to pounce. And Samson is the crazy one who jumps branches.

As much as my experiment is starting to work, my wife is none too impressed. It seems these little fellas are pooping on our deck and making a bigger mess of the bird feeder. I have been asked to adjust my plan to get them to wander elsewhere.

Time to get them to the other side of the backyard and maybe we can bond over some berries.

Front Deck: Part Deux

Well, we didn’t quite start on completing our new deck at 8am like my son wanted Yesterday. We began around 10am instead. I’m happy to report- we got it done! And most of the clean up is done as well.

I’m also happy that I was able to scrounge up some old cedar slats to make a porch swing to complete the look. I also dig out three pieces of cut wood that my father-in-law left behind. These were originally for a step stool/ mini bench. But the shape lead to a perfect angle for the base of the swing. I also used the other part as the armrests. Hooray for up cycling!

Now our home really feels like we are country living. Got the front porch and porch swing all completed in a couple of days. Now to add some planters and relax as the world passes by.

Front Deck Part 1.

The other day my wife mentioned how she wanted to change the look of the front of our home. We’ve always had stones lining the front of our house from our driveway to the wall. Nothing fancy really- take a look:

When we first moved in, there was a couple of rotting flower boxes. We quickly removed those along with a half dead “Prickly Pete” bush that hid our gas meter by the carport. We’ve tried livening it up by putting a bench and an old wagon in front. But it just didn’t look good. So my wife asked if I would make a new deck. I jumped at the chance. This will be my third deck build. I enjoy them.

I wanted to get an early start on this project, but didn’t leave the house until after 10am. The Home Depot stung me for about $600 in pressure treated lumber. Even though the deck area is five feet wide- it is 36’ long. I also opted to give it a bit of height to add a step and level it off. I returned home with 72 deck boards- which irritated one customer because I took all the good ones- I got to work on my next project around lunchtime.

I was hoping to be posting about a “One Day Build” but starting at noon makes for a tough challenge. Instead I opted to have our fourteen year old son help me. That way I could teach him how to use power tools, as well as the tricks to making a good sturdy deck. Safety was the first thing I taught him. Safety glasses, taking your time and common sense were expressed. As much as he groaned at first, he got into the workload pretty quick. A few errors were made, but nothing tragic.

We’ve gotten about half way through this project before calling it a day. Building the frame and leveling it off was the toughest part and took quite a while. My son wanted to keep going after dinner, but I explained to him that it was disrespectful to the neighbors to be noisy as dusk fell. He has decided that we will be waking up at 7am and be back at it by 8am. He wants to be done by lunch. I’m happy about his enthusiasm. He’s also proud of his workmanship.

Little does he know that I also have a Porch Swing project in mind for us… That would finish the new deck off quite nicely.

Darts

I came home this evening and went into our storage barn looking for some wood. I think I found what I wanted. But in my search I found some coconut shells and my old dart board.

I took the coconut shells to my daughter’s room and told her that a horse had entered our barn. She was like “What?” I was like, “Ya!” Then pulled out the coconuts and clapped them together. The coconut shells made my daughter happy because it reminded us both of Monty Python And The Holy Grail.

The dart board brought more joy to everyone though. My son and I set it up to regulation height and marked the distance on the deck with a chalk line. We began to toss a few shots. We had a couple competitions, first counting up to 300, then down from 200. I won one game, he won the other. My son is loving the math aspect.

I’m happy that the dart board and case are still in great condition. I’ve owned it for nearly twenty years and it’s been in storage for about five years now. We will probably get many more years out of it. I’m also impressed that our kids are wanting to play and have the skill sets to do math quickly in their heads. Far quicker than I can it seems.

Maybe I should just go back to clapping the coconut shells together.

Transcendental Music

I worked for twelve hours. I drove for forty five minutes to get to work and forty five minutes to get home. I got home, I put on some music, and made dinner for everyone. We ate our burgers on the back patio, shared some stories of the day, and genuinely enjoyed each other’s company.

Slowly, everyone left the table. No words were said. Just one by one they left. Until I remained. Hoping one or more would return. But they did not. They left their dirty plates. They left me behind.

After about ten minutes, I changed the music. I put on some trance music by The Orb and stared off into the yard, listening to the music and the wildlife, eventually closing my eyes. I let the music take me away. Several moments passed. I had been zoned out. It was relaxing.

I miss listening to music for the sake of music. No lyrics. The occasional word is spoken. But the rhythmic nothingness of trance music with the sounds of birds chirping is zen like. I do not care that the dishes were left behind. Or that no thank you’s were offered up to me for working all day and making dinner. My wife also worked, so did our eldest. The other two had online school. We all had busy mental days. Busy happens.

Life is busy. We all experience it. Take a breather and don’t get angry. The dishes will get washed. The table will get cleared. The smiles will remain. The music will play. The time is now.

Just Ducking Wonderful

Living in the country on the outskirts of the suburbs is tranquil in many ways. I like the sounds of the birds and animals as they wander the neighborhood. Sometimes they get into our home, like the occasional hummingbird. But usually they just hang out in the trees and along the grass.

Today our fourteen year old son spotted a family of ducks nearby. He had to pull out his phone to snap a photo. He has a soft spot for cuteness. And judging by how many photos he takes of small critters, he’s probably going to own a dog or cat one day. Or maybe a reptile…

He did capture a tree frog the other day and made a home of leaves inside a large clear tub for the little guy. However… it escaped. We found el froggo on the dining room table this evening. I learned that the frog’s name is Gary Barry because of this.

Rhyming is fun! Losing a wild creature in the home is not. At least it’s back in a sort of captivity. We will probably set it free pretty soon. I don’t want to have it show up under our dishwasher like the last one in our home did. That would be ducking wonderful.