I Didn’t Do Much… But Christmas Is 35 Days Away

This past week I was on Staycation. Honestly, I didn’t do much out of the ordinary. I enjoyed time with my family, had a lot of days of just Darwin and I. While my wife and youngest went out to Calgary, I watched his races on the live stream. Which were probably better than being in person as the cameras were ice side. Plus I wasn’t in a cold rink.

Normally if my wife leaves for a weekend, I get antsy and start some major project. Not this weekend. I did take some extra Christmas lights and put them around our gazebo. I mixed the red my wife wanted and the white that I wanted and am pretty happy with how it looks.

I had told my wife last week that I only wanted to put up two of our four artificial Christmas trees. Before they left, she asked that I don’t put up our living room tree until the start of December. I did put up one of the trees we have- I put it up in her office. She was happy went I sent the picture to her. It means we will be putting up a third tree in our basement now.

My wife doesn’t like the idea of downsizing our trees. So moving from four to three really isn’t so bad. We did three trees before. That generally works better for us. One is our elegant tree, one is the kids tree (all those handmade and silly ornaments collected over the years), and our third is usually just the ornaments we like, but they don’t quite go on either of the other two trees (yet we cannot get rid of the ornaments). A fourth tree is just too much. Mostly we just had lights and it would be outside

I enjoyed my time off. Now it’s back to the grind. At least until my next week of vacation at Christmas.

I Didn’t Do Much… But Christmas Is 35 Days Away

This past week I was on Staycation. Honestly, I didn’t do much out of the ordinary. I enjoyed time with my family, had a lot of days of just Darwin and I. While my wife and youngest went out to Calgary, I watched his races on the live stream. Which were probably better than being in person as the cameras were ice side. Plus I wasn’t in a cold rink.

Normally if my wife leaves for a weekend, I get antsy and start some major project. Not this weekend. I did take some extra Christmas lights and put them around our gazebo. I mixed the red my wife wanted and the white that I wanted and am pretty happy with how it looks.

I had told my wife last week that I only wanted to put up two of our four artificial Christmas trees. Before they left, she asked that I don’t put up our living room tree until the start of December. I did put up one of the trees we have- I put it up in her office. She was happy went I sent the picture to her. It means we will be putting up a third tree in our basement now.

My wife doesn’t like the idea of downsizing our trees. So moving from four to three really isn’t so bad. We did three trees before. That generally works better for us. One is our elegant tree, one is the kids tree (all those handmade and silly ornaments collected over the years), and our third is usually just the ornaments we like, but they don’t quite go on either of the other two trees (yet we cannot get rid of the ornaments). A fourth tree is just too much. Mostly we just had lights and it would be outside

I enjoyed my time off. Now it’s back to the grind. At least until my next week of vacation at Christmas.

Gone Again

My wife and son have left for Calgary this weekend. Theory will be skating all three days at the Calgary Olympic Oval. This is one of the few times that he gets to put on his long track skates. Unfortunately there aren’t any rinks nearby that allow for him to practice. So his ice time is limited on those style of skates.

Our son took a picture of our home from the plane.

This time around, my wife decided to fly with him instead of the road trip. I don’t blame her since driving through the Rockies in summer is far different than driving in inclement weather. On the fun side of things- my son took a picture of our home from the plane as they passed over. That’s really neat.

I’m relieved that they made it safely to their destination. I was kind of spying on them with the “Find My iPhone” app. In the new year, we are sending him off on his own to fly to a competition. I will 100% be spying on his progress when that time comes!

I’m the meantime, I will be watching his skating from the live feed on YouTube. I think he will get some personal bests since his training on short track speed skating has been intense for the past few months. I wish him the best of luck!

VR Sickness

For the first time in a few months, I was playing around on my wife’s Oculus headset. I really enjoy the immersive experience that comes with it. Specifically seeing the scientific and space exploration. Those sorts of things aren’t readily available to most of us. Participating as an onlooker from the comfort of your home is the next best thing.

Having cleared a space for me to enjoy our VR, I ended up going barefoot on our super soft rug. This was an unusual sensation, especially when I was floating around the International Space Station at one point.

After about an hour or so of toying around the virtual world, I began to feel queasy. It was probably the Star Wars roller coaster simulation that did it to me. Then I moved on to trying a game, but nausea was too strong. I had to log out.

This was the first time I ever felt that way from VR. It reminded me of when I worked at IMAX some twenty plus years ago. My boss explained that the rollercoaster film that was made required a focal point for people to stare at in order to alleviate motion sickness. I think that was where I went wrong on the roller coaster. I was too busy looking around the virtual environment that my brain sensed movement elsewhere even though I was sitting on the couch.

No more games for a bit, as I have had to take a chewable Pepto Bismal and lay down. I’m not even going to turn on the tv. In fact, after writing this quick blog, my phone is also going away as I recover.

Freaking Virtual Reality Sickness.

Foggy Autumn Vacation

This is one of those rare vacations where I didn’t have much planned. Setting up the Christmas lights was really about it. Everything else I am doing is just the routine of our lives. Grocery shopping, speed skating practice, meeting up with friends… that sort of thing.

During my downtime I am watching some tv and playing video games. No big household projects or crafting this time around. I just want to relax. And I’m getting to do exactly that.

Last night I soaked in the tub, read a book and enjoyed a glass of wine. This morning I have been staring out the window amazed that the fog is so thick and just doesn’t want to lift or burn off. Yet somehow our view is still just as stunning without being able to see much. As if we are floating in the clouds.

That’s kind of how I feel about my week of vacation. I’m enjoying it, yet not much is happening that is exciting. This staycation is precisely what I needed. No hustle, just floating through. A chance to watch the world and appreciate the beauty it holds.

Wreathing

Over the years we have made numerous Christmas decorations and wreaths. The wreaths are probably my favorite. This year we added two new ones.

The one on the right I had made about four years ago- Wreath Making on the Cheap. The Jack Skellington one was in the process of being made for a couple of years. Both are now hanging up on the doors to my wife’s office. Inside her office is a shrine to The Nightmare Before Christmas. I’ll share that in a future blog.

The wreath on our front door was completed last week by yours truly. Since our home is going more “elegant” it required me to take the red and green off of it. This one has a bunch of “picks” that are gold, silver and white in colour. Honestly, these were small decorations that we had sitting in a box and saved for years. Now they have a purpose.

I’m a fan of making decorations and homemade ornaments and such. Last year two of my favorite pieces were made: Upcycles Boards.

Do you make your own Christmas Decorations? Let me see in the comments. I love being inspired by others.

Memories From Facebook

Seeing my Facebook memories is pretty much the only reason I go on the app these days. The old status updates help to remind me of where we’ve been and what we went through to get where we are today.

These updates about our former house make me happy with our decision to sell and move into a new house. When we went through those hardships, it sucked. It was tough to get ahead when we had that home. As much as we wanted to update and change the house- something would happen. We would go two steps back and have a headache on our hands.

Not having water or electricity is a thing of the past now. We don’t experience either of those issues anymore. Our current house is also looking like the roof will last for another ten years- so that expense won’t affect us anytime soon.

I like that I can look back and remember the frustrating times and how we got through them. I’m happy with our new home without having to update or repair at this time.

Lights!

With the help of a friend today- our outside Christmas lights went up. I’m really happy with our new lights. I’m also glad that my friend Greg did the hard part.

I have a healthy fear of heights. Or rather a fear of falling from heights. Greg brought his harness and locked into the roof anchors. Afterwards he did tell me that it was kind of frosty in the one side and pushed his comfort zone as well.

I like the look of the lights. There is one spot that I’m going to correct tomorrow. Can you guess which location that is? It’s the one dark spot on the upper peak. That’s where the two strands of lights connect. I can leave it for the night. Because it’s cold and dark.

A big thank you again to Greg for his help. I probably wouldn’t have gotten the lights done without him. Now it’s starting to feel like Christmas.

Can You Ever Have Enough Christmas Decorations?

Boxes of Christmas decorations have exploded in my home. It isn’t until I begin bringing them out of the attic that I realize how much we have. It may be time to downsize some of the decorations. It took me a good half hour with help to get everything out. That doesn’t include our four artificial trees and those decorations!

Bins and boxes filled our dining room table as well as the floor space around. Opening each box contains a new surprise. Sometimes it’s exactly what I was expecting inside, but most often it contains the unknown.

Since we changed our colour theme last year to silver, gold and blue- we now have an abundance of red and green balls and baubles. Lucky for us, it should fit in nicely in our basement. Downstairs has more earthy brown tones as the colour scheme.

I have been working on some new layouts to keep it looking uncluttered. I also kept the same design of the garland from last year. Of course this means having some of our cutesy decorations needing a place to live. We have so many stuffed toys that come out for Christmas. As well as a growing collection of Nightmare Before Christmas trinkets.

My family is surprised that I am so far behind in decorating. Good thing I have a week of vacation to do the displays and set up the house just right.

Let’s get decorated!

Light Dusting

Overnight there was a light dusting of snow that fell. The sudden drop in temperature and weather changes came as a bit of a surprise. Last week’s windstorm and torrential rainfall was already challenging. The snow and cold temperatures made me realize that I needed to wrap our palm tree in order to save it for next summer.

The brisk air and chilled sky made the city skyline in the distance a bit more visible. With a lovely mountain backdrop, it hardly seemed real. Especially to be able to see it from our backyard. I expect to see more snow on the mountains as the season gets colder.

Over the next few days it should be sunny, but cool. After I protect our palm tree, I’ll be putting up the outside Christmas lights before it gets really miserable outside. That way when December is upon us- I can enjoy the lights as darkness takes over most of the days as we approach the Winter Solstice.

Appreciating the season can be tough. Finding the moments that can bring you pleasure or working towards them is challenging. I like the end result and try my best to accept when I can’t control something- like the weather.

Slow To Get Home

Protecting work is a part of my job. But sometimes it can be a long, drawn out process. I was waiting for a train to go back on for 24 hours. I was originally expected to be a conductor in the early morning, but that never happened. In the end, I am heading back with a crew in deadhead service.

This is also in part because the roads are treacherous as well due to a snow fall and strong winds. Getting in a taxi was not the safest choice at this time. So I am glad to be traveling back by train. I am also with an experienced crew who is good at their job. I know they won’t feel intimidated by my appearance there.

Home is just a few hours away. My own bed and a good night’s sleep is well needed. I’m looking forward to my bedroom and the fireplace. The -5°C in Boston Bar is not pleasant.

Bedroom Fireplace

I never thought of having a fireplace in our bedroom as being something I needed. But once we bought this home, I am beginning to wonder how we lived without it. Especially last winter as well as right now, as we are entering the same seasonal chills.

I’m not about to say that having a gas fireplace in our bedroom isn’t a luxury. Far from it. Having a fireplace in any room brings forth warmth and comfort. But to fall asleep with the flickering flames and heat is wonderful. Even better today is that I was chilled last night having to work outside. Ending a night shift with a warm fire to fall asleep to is a total luxury.

I hope you are finding ways to stay warm and enjoy your slumbers. I am off to sleep with a cozy fire on.

Halloween Is Over

It took less than 30 minutes for me to pack up the Halloween decorations and put them back into the attic. And of course, I decided to bring some Christmas decor down. Specifically the one that has brought the family the most joy.

Creepy Santa has Returned. He came out of the attic the day after Halloween- knowing that his time to emerge and terrify was upon us. He immediately disappeared into his first hiding location. Waiting to be discovered.

The only other decoration that makes an appearance so soon is Timmy- our tin soldier. All year-round he sits in the corner of our outside front entryway underneath our security camera. Once Halloween is over- he gets turned to guard our entrance. I was thinking that I may move him to the upper balcony instead, so he can watch over the neighborhood. He is the perfect pop of color needed for our house.

Because the weather was so nice today, a part of me was almost ready to put up the outdoor Christmas lights. But some of my plans were changed around and the idea fell towards the back burner only to be ignored completely by sundown. Maybe it’s too soon for Christmas decorations. Hahaha.

Have you begun slowly Christmas decorating as well? Or do you bring everything out at once?

Much Needed Rain

Over the last few days, the Lower Mainland and Vancouver area has gotten some much needed rain. As much as I enjoyed the extended summer weather- rain was badly needed. And welcomed.

Even just the short amount we have gotten so far has brought back a bit of vegetation and vibrancy to our world. This will help with keeping wild fires down as well as give some life to the plants that have needed it most prior to going dormant for the year. I have also heard of people in our old neighborhood having their wells start to run low and even dry. That’s a tough situation to deal with. The rain can help fill those natural supplies once more.

Working or driving in this weather can be frustrating as well. Please just remember to take it a bit slower out there. No one wants to get in an accident or injured. Besides- rain and Vancouver go hand-in-hand according to other parts of the world. But only when it isn’t sunny and those folks are just jealous of the good weather we get most of the other time.

Happy Diwali

I want to wish a very Happy Diwali to my friends and coworkers who celebrate today!

I had only briefly heard of Diwali in the past from the news and a few social media posts from friends. It wasn’t until last year that I truly got to enjoy the spectacle that emerges with the celebration.

The back of our home faces Central Surrey. There are numerous temples and large homesteads that celebrated last year. We watched fireworks going off all across the tree line in the distance for days. We spent every evening watching from the comfort of our home. It was spectacular. New Year’s Eve and Canada Day paled in comparison to the extravaganza that we witnessed.

Reading and educating myself about Diwali, I came across this information: One of the most popular festivals of Hinduism, it symbolizes the spiritual “victory of light over darkness, good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance”. To me- that sounds beautiful.

Happy Diwali Friends! Thank you for sharing your celebration with the world.

We Just Ended Summer

Today, my wife and I cleaned up the backyard and prepared for winter. That meant bringing in outdoor cushions, wiping down the tables and chairs and then covering them for the end of season to protect it all. My wife also went through and trimmed the last of her large tomato plants (the ones that weren’t in the Greenhouse).

The one thing that really says “summer is over” is the fact that I put the winter cover on the pool. I gave it one final vacuum, cleaned out the filters, shut off the gas and set up the bypass water pipe. That way I can keep circulating that water over winter, but it doesn’t have to go through the heater.

Our yard looks barren now. All set for the rain, wind and potential snow that will come in the following weeks. I’m happy that we have more of our house back as well. We were able to utilize more storage space indoors this year. Over the next few weeks, my wife is wanting to set up her sewing area again. It’s perfect that we get to be indoors more often.

I may be done hanging outside, but I can still enjoy the views from the comfort of our living room and bedroom. It’s almost time to turn on the gas fireplaces to add warmth to our environment.

Are you ready for summer to officially end?

Stink Bug

It seems that with the abnormally warm October comes an infestation of the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug. (Here’s what the Canadian Government says about them: BMSB). A couple weeks ago, I saw a couple inside our home. Naturally, I got rid of them and thought nothing of it. Just a bug making its way inside somehow.

Last weekend, as we started to prepare our backyard for winter, an abundance of these critters were discovered. Under our gazebo, we have our deck furniture set up. As I lifted the cushions up, I began to notice hundreds of these little brown shielded insects conglomerating in groups. They were seeking warmth on the cool nights.

Aside from the initial “ugh, gross” moment- these bugs don’t bite. They are easy to scoop up, but they scuttle away like cockroaches when disturbed. The biggest tip- don’t squish them. That’s when they ooze and cause the stink. There’s not much you can do except vacuum them up and toss them out. I did hear that drowning them is a good way to get kill them. Unless of course you enjoy the smell they secrete when squashed.

If that’s the case, let me know- I’ll bag up a bunch for you to destroy.

Hotumn

2021

Last year, we had already covered our pool for the winter. That was mostly because the weather was far cooler and wetter than it is this year.

This past weekend, my wife and I enjoyed the sun and an August-like heatwave. I saw someone use the term “Hotumn” and it described the local weather perfectly. My wife and I had a great time floating, splashing, and swimming for a few hours everyday this month.

Coming up on Friday, our weather patterns are subject to drop to last year’s similar cool and wet conditions. Our swimming pool shall be shut for the winter weather by the end of this week.

I’m a bit sad that our enjoyment of the outdoors is coming to and end. I’ve enjoyed the pool and the gardening tremendously this month. It has kept me happy and occupied. Soon, all of our activities will be indoors. Such as more movies, games, and food. I am looking forward to those activities as well.

Goodbye Hotumn. I’m glad you stayed a while longer.

DIY Oven Range Repair

This is the second gas range I have repaired in my lifetime. The first one was about twenty years ago. In that time, not much has changed in the process. Except that I get overnight delivery at a fraction of the cost for the part I need. Having done this once before, I had my suspicions on what was wrong.

I shut off the power and pulled off the door. Then it was a matter of accessing the panel at the bottom of the range. At which point I removed the heat shield and saw the problem. Which is exactly what I thought it was going to be.

The igniter was on its last legs. When I touched it, the two metal parts crumbled. Time to pull it out and buy the part off Amazon. The part should arrive tonight by 10pm. If I’m feeling up to it, I’ll finish the repair tonight. Most likely I’ll do it first thing in the morning tomorrow.

If by chance I am wrong about the issue, I will have to go to the internet and scour some troubleshooting tips. But this part need replacement anyhow.

I love doing this sort of thing. Next is to figure out why my upstairs fridge isn’t making ice. I have a feeling it’s frozen solid. Which means I may have to thaw the fridge for a day or two. Thank goodness we have a second fridge in our basement. But that’s for another blog post.

Buy The Corn!!!

My wife has been super excited about buying corn this year. She has been mentioning it for weeks on end. There is a small corn stand just a few blocks away from us that we can see from our backyard. There is also a Facebook group devoted to the corn stand. It’s from Bose Farm (which is also the land our home is originally from…)

This morning my wife was up early and watching out the window. She grabbed a pair of binoculars when she saw a car stop. Corn was available! Today was the day to buy corn.

We got out of bed and rushed out to the box of corn. A dozen cobs of farm fresh corn for $5 is well worth the early trip. We will be enjoying it this weekend for Thanksgiving with the family. Yes, I do enjoy corn as well.

Sometimes it’s the little things in life that can bring us joy. My wife getting that farm fresh corn she wanted is right up there!

Do you like corn on the cob as much as she does? Have you been buying farm fresh corn this season? Let me know in the comments.

Baking For Thanksgiving

As easy as it would be to go and buy a pie at the store, I find it oddly satisfying to bake my own. Today I baked two pies from scratch- using apples from our own tree.

The tree we have is the sort of tree that has numerous varieties on it. On the west side of the tree are a variety of red apples. On the east side is all the green apples. I ended up picking about twenty apples or so of all the varieties. I was unsure how many I would need.

After peeling a bunch of our green ones, I realized I’d have enough apples for two pies. Good thing the crust I was making from scratch was enough for two pies. I also figured that since I was making such a mess in the kitchen, I may as well bake something else.

After a couple of hours, and using the oven in our basement as well- I created two apple pies and two banana bread loaves. The house smelled heavenly. Now to keep the family away from these goodies until Sunday night dinner! if they are snacking- they can try one of the red apples that I picked but never used for baking.

Moving Plants To A Greenhouse

As summer is ending, it was time to salvage what we have remaining of our vegetable garden. Surprisingly there is still a ton of pepper and tomato plants- some are still flowering. Lucky for us the weather has been sitting quite warm durning the day, but it looks to be dripping soon enough.

We had purchased a small greenhouse last year. It was set up near the back of the garage for the previous winter. When it got taken down in the spring- it went into storage. Alas- there were no instructions on how to assemble it again. I never built it or disassembled it. That was all my wife and the kids.

So it was off to the Home Depot website to bring up an image of the greenhouse. I found one similar which I believed to be the same brand as the one we own. Quick screenshot, zoom in, lay out the parts- and a bunch of trial and error and the greenhouse got built.

Now it’s erected and placed it on the corner of our deck in hopes to limit any cross wind damage. I also went under the deck and tied it down from the bottom. My wife is planning on moving her plants into it this weekend. She is already excited and began to move them closer to the greenhouse while on her lunch break.

If the greenhouse does well at the location it is in- we may just leave it up all year round. Having a view of fresh vegetables from our deck and pool would not bother me in the slightest. Mmmm homegrown food.

Getting Stoned

Today I bit the bullet and went to get some river rock delivered for our home. I was surprised that they were able to deliver within a couple of hours of ordering.

I lay some landscape fabric down a few weeks ago. And last week, I had put the garden wall along the property line. The bark mulch garden islands were also completed last week.

I took me about three hours and twenty five wheelbarrows to fill the garden. The neighbors each came by and commented on the improvements and how hard I worked. One neighbor even brought me a beer. It was nice to get acknowledgment and approval from the neighbors.

Of course, I’m really proud of the work done over the past year. I’m also sore from the backbreaking labor- but it was all worthwhile. Now to hit the pool and find some advil.

October Movie Schlockfest

Every day in October I am planning on watching a cheesy movie. Preferably sci-fi and/or horror- the more “cringy” the better. So far I have watched three films that really fit the bill.

First film I watched was “Invaders From Mars” made back in 1986. I remember this film coming out on cable tv in the 80’s and I was so excited to see it. It is not good. Lots of excess screaming and ridiculous looking aliens. None of which is scary by any means.

Last night I watched “Cube Zero” which I was honestly hoping would be as good as “Cube”. Alas, it fell short. In fact it almost ruins the idea of what the original film “Cube” was about. But cheesy acting and ridiculous practical effects helped to make it more campy than “mind fuck” like it’s original.

Tonight I went back to the 80’s for an absolute disaster of a film. “Munchies” knew it was campy and ridiculous from the start with hints at “Gremlins” and numerous other movies prior to it. It is not a good film by any means. I lost interest in it by the end and was nodding off on the couch by 9pm.

The idea of watching cheesy and campy films came about on September 30th. That was the day my middle child and I decided to watch “Hocus Pocus 2”. Cheesy, corny, nostalgic and not very good. Perfect to get my tastebuds wet with the month of October.

Do you have any extra cheesy films for the spooky season that you would recommend? I have a few saved on our streaming device.

Perfect October Saturday

Today I just did stuff for me. Sort of. I started my day early by cleaning the bathroom and mopping the floors. I took a break to watch my son skate via a live feed from Calgary.

At lunch, I went to meet a couple of buddies for beer at a new brewery in Langley. It opened only a month ago, so it was still fairly new and not too busy. During our beers, we took a break and watched another of Theory’s races on YouTube.

By three o’clock I was back home and caught Theory’s final race of the day. This was followed by some “me time” floating in the pool. I didn’t turn on the heat, so it was a float on the cool water as I enjoyed the sun and a couple more beers.

After such a busy few days off, I needed the afternoon to myself. I’m glad I met with my buddies for a break. Too bad they had other plans for the afternoon- otherwise we’d have gotten into more than a couple drinks. So much for the idea of Sober October. There’s always next year.