Mushrooming

My wife mentioned how some of her coworkers go out and collect wild mushrooms in autumn. Today was a perfect day for me to explore our yard for such fungi.

I downloaded an app that allows me to take a photo and it would tell me if it was toxic or safe to eat. I downloaded “Picture Mushroom” and it has a free trial for the week, but costs $29 for the year. So why not try it out since this was my first foray into mushrooming. And I don’t think I will be out in much more of the world to search for ‘shrooms, so after this week, I’ll likely delete the app. (If anyone has an app they enjoy using- please let me know).

The afternoon turned into a fun hunt for my wife and I. We gently collected a variety of mushrooms, keeping them separated so that we could cross-check afterwards just in case. We don’t want a sick family because of a lack of knowledge.

Turns out that we had quite the collection of various mushrooms growing on our property that were good for consumption! My wife and our oldest daughter went to work cleaning the funguses and we stored them away in paper bags until tomorrow night’s dinner.

In our front yard, we also happened to find a smattering of toxic mushrooms. The kind that cause hallucinations. We collected them up and told our teens about them and the effects. Ingesting these types of mushrooms is not on our radar at this time. But we removed them from the yard anyways.

Do you go mushroom hunting? Any good recipes to share? Or perhaps any ill effects happened?

Let me know in the comments. (And no, we are not selling the psychedelic ones!)

Bruno Fenger

Today I was going through old papers- such as bills, taxes, etc… and disposing of the unnecessary ones. I found old paystubs from Chuck E. Cheese, a copy my father’s probate (with an address for My Unknown Half Sister) and information about our current home. The last one is what today’s blog is about.

You see, my father-in-law designed and built this house back in the 1970’s. Bruno Fenger was a brick layer by trade and the workmanship in this house is amazing. He also enjoyed woodworking as a hobby, often selling at various craft shows back in the 80’s/90’s. He is a very talented man who immigrated from Germany many, many decades ago. He decided to build a house and stay in British Columbia to raise his family.

I found rolls of papers from when he designed this house and had purchased the property. The blueprints were all hand drawn. To me these pages showed a commitment to excellence that you probably won’t find in today’s market. It was also great to see how his designs translated into a finished product (such as the fireplace) and some of the changes which occurred during the building process.

As a tribute to his work, I framed the blueprint for the upstairs and hung it on the wall. Bruno’s work lives on in this home through more than just ideas on paper. With his 88th birthday coming up at the end of November, I thought it to be fitting that I show some gratitude to the man who made a home for my family.

Thank you Bruno for creating such an amazing house for your grandchildren to grow up in. We wouldn’t have it any other way.

Cleaning for Christmas Season

This past weekend we did a pretty good cleaning up of the downstairs of our home. My wife has been adamant over the years that we are not permitted to put out Winter Decorations until the house is cleaned up. I push every year to start the process in early November.

That’s because I love decorating our home for winter!

This year, my wife was a big part of the decorating process. In fact, the entire family was a huge help and we had fun doing it. Well, maybe not the cleaning aspect… but the decorating for sure! All that’s left is the trees to come out after my wife’s birthday… on December 6th.

Have you already started decorating for the winter solstice or other such celebrations?

Coats

It’s getting into much cooler temperatures these days. So that means wearing heavier coats and jackets in order to stay warm. If you’re like my household, the jackets never end up where they belong after being used.

Usually the coats end up on the backs of chairs. Or tossed onto the couch. Of the six dining table chairs- my wife currently has jackets on two of them. This morning, I just walked in and tossed my jacket onto a chair in our front foyer.

I know what you’re thinking, “But Josef, why don’t you hang up your jackets?”

I really should do that. Especially since NO ONE KNOWS HOW TO CLOSE THE CLOSET DOORS. The closet we hang our jackets in is always open. You’d think that we would be able to grab a hanger, put the jacket away, and close the door again.

Nope. Five people in this household and the closet is always open and our jackets are keeping our chairs warm.

I should just get a coat rack and hang up a jacket on it that I won’t wear for two or three years. As well, on one of the other pegs will be a jacket from a visitor, only no one will ever claim it. That’s what a coat rack is for, amirite?

The worst part about my rant today? I’m going to leave the jackets where they are. I’m just as guilty and lazy as the rest of my family. And most likely you are as well. Let’s stand in solidarity as the jackets hang out on chairs!

Ahead of the Game

Yesterday I mentioned that I was looking for Christmas light clips in: Make it. That is because I’m trying to get ahead of the winter season. I like to put up my lights in early November, but I don’t turn them on until December. That’s because I don’t want to be freezing my fingertips or standing on the roof in the rain trying to put up lights.

I also sneak a couple of decorations out a bit early. Just because of the hassle of getting a ladder in the cold. We have four large baubles that hang from our ceiling in our main foyer. I hate putting them up every year, so I just git’r’done immediately after Halloween.

Since I am crafty, I also do something unique every year. This year is a couple of cheap wooden crates painted in red that will hold Christmas stuffed animals. We will put them underneath the stairs in our front foyer. I figured I better paint them now and let them dry 100% before putting anything inside. It also gives me a chance to decide if I want to add anything more to the boxes. Like a hand painted sign or fake holly. We shall see.

Are you getting ready for those winter holidays yet? Let me know in the comments. Plus I love to see what other people craft. It always brings me joy seeing stuff made from scratch. It always inspires me to do better.

If You Can’t Find It- Make It

For a couple of years I have been searching out a specific type of clip to hold my outdoor Christmas lights. I always remember to look for them when the season starts at the various stores. But I haven’t seen them in almost three decades. It was when we first moved in that I had used the few we had left over as well as a clip that was close in shape. That clip was far more flimsy, almost intentional so I would need to replace them more often.

The Christmas light clip a simple design. The wires go through the zigzag and hold in place. I like how sturdy these clips are. Unlike the other ones I picked up that have snapped over the years, leaving my lights dangling down. This design was one my father had picked up back in the 90’s.

Because I was unable to find the clips in the store or online, my wife suggested I 3D print them. Brilliant! I went on Thingiverse and someone had uploaded exactly what I needed! I was so happy! So many exclamation marks!!! But in order to make them sturdy, I couldn’t speed up the print. 33 minutes it takes to print one. I need close to twenty replacement pieces. Good thing Christmas is a few weeks away.

As I searched online for the clips, I was in the middle of printing off another great item that will make life easier. I also didn’t know I needed it until I saw it…

I printed a battery dispenser for all my loose “AA” batteries. It holds 12 batteries in the lower part, and has a separate extension to hold more. Now instead of searching the junk drawer the batteries will have a happy little home and I can see when we get low..

Having a 3D printer is fun and has become very versatile in my day to day use. I wonder what else I should print?

I Want It Painted Black

As the song goes- “I see a red door and I want it painted black.” I too painted our front door black. That was five years ago.

Looking at the evolution of our “curb appeal”- I love how the door creates the look in which every thing else follows suit. From our shutters to the trim to the curtains. We made black the accent colour of our home. Even the large chandelier above the front door was given an oiled black finish.

There’s something comforting coming home and seeing the front door with the light on. It’s all about knowing I did these changes on my own. Prideful moment.

Organized Mess

It’s the last day of my vacation. The family is home as well with me. So we are going to do some quality family time activities- cleaning the house.

It’s amazing how quickly a home can feel like a disaster. Odds and ends being left around instead of put away immediately. Items just dumped willy-nilly in hopes that someone else will pick it up. Not today. Today we are all going to tidy this place. Time to even close the cupboards and drawers that get left partially open as well. Let’s get things put away completely please.

We are even going to dust and remove the cobwebs. I know- counterproductive with Halloween just around the corner. But it needs to be done. My allergies are taking a hit these days and it’s almost time to turn on the heat. Nothing worse than the smell of burning dust as you try and warm the homestead.

If you need me- I’ll be the one barking orders and checking the work being done by our teenagers. They love it when I make them do a task more than once in order to get it right. Ah, quality learning moments.

Early Autumn Morning Drive

Living in the countryside has its advantages. My commute to and from work can be long and tiresome. I try and use that time to decompress and leave the workload behind me. Driving home from a night shift lately has been rather pleasant.

I enjoy the sunrise in the autumn much more than any other time of year. The sun is at a slightly different angle as well as a bit later to rise. A misty morning makes the light of day shimmer with a hazy aura. As if the trees are glowing and preparing to change colors.

Having trees all around my neighborhood makes for a peaceful autumn morning. A freshness is in the air. One that you cannot experience in the suburbs or city. It clears my head and relaxes me on a daily basis. My own little zen experience.

An autumn morning drive fills me with contentment. This world is a pretty place.

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.