Reds, Yellows and Greens

The tree on our neighbor’s property.

I love autumn. For the first time in ages I’ve had the opportunity to enjoy the colors of the leaves as they change. Our last home was in a beautiful yard filled with pine trees. So we didn’t have much in the way of fallen leaves to clean up. In our new neighborhood- we also don’t have a lot of leaves to deal with, but the neighborhood looks beautiful as the season changes.

Looking out our front door there is a cornucopia of trees and colors. I love being able to witness the world as it transforms. The suburban life is something I never would’ve thought that I’d have enjoyed. I can wave at neighbors and smile a greeting to them. We still have the privacy of our back yard.

As the seasons change, we get to see more of it from our windows. Besides all of the beautiful skies, I’m loving that nature is sprawling out for miles. Plenty of green space separating us from the rest of the world.

Nature is amazing. Red is probably my favorite color of the leaves. There’s something vibrant about the color. Almost passionate.

Do you enjoy autumn and the changes in the world?

VR Sharing

Sunday Morning, our son decided that he was going to enjoy some VR gaming. For whatever reason, he also decided that he needed to cast it to our television.

It was odd that he did this, since no one else was around at the time. I walked downstairs and he was just talking away to thin air. When I asked who he was talking to, he said “the people in the game.” It turns out that when casting, he decided to turn the volume off because there was a bit of a lag/ delay and it was throwing him off.

I also asked why he was casting, and he said “So that we could watch him play.” I don’t think he realizes that we don’t all enjoy watching him play video games. especially on a Sunday morning when most of us wish to sleep in or have a quiet start to the day. At least he kept the sound muted, so I was entertained by his wild movements as he played a game called Gorilla Tag.

If we were taking turns playing a game, cool let’s cast. But he had already taken over the living room space, I guess he hoped we would enjoy watching his game that makes no sense? Wanna play tag? Go outside with friends and play tag. Why are you doing it in VR???

A Year With Maki

My wife pointed out to us all that it has been one year since Maki entered into our lives. Over this past year, she has been through a lot of emotional times with us. From Christmas to birthdays, to moving homes to the Loss of Lex– our other dog… Maki has been here with us and for us in many ways.

Yesterday, our daughter shared these images on her Instagram. This was her caption: “A year ago today I met my best friend. The first photo here is the first one I ever took of her. She always knows when I’m feeling down when nobody else does, she’s funny, and she loves me. I love her so so much, happy adoptaversary” When I read that, I really understood the idea that pets can be great companions.

Maki has been wonderful for the mental well-being of our family members. She is always nosing in for a cuddle or rub. Maki is also the first pet that we have allowed to sleep in our kids’ rooms and permitted to jump on the couches. Taking her for a walk hasn’t been problematic either, as we all enjoy talking with her as we walk the neighborhood. Something about Maki is different than our other dogs, and it shows.

We all love her and are happy that she is sharing her love with us in her own derpy way. I can’t believe she’s been a member of our family for a year already.

Covered

Today was the final opportunity for us to see the blue of our pool. The final objective we needed to deal with in our backyard to prepare for the winter, was to throw a cover on the pool. All of our furniture is stored away, and the other day we Wrapped The Palm Trees for winter.

It was a sad moment having to say goodbye to the pool for the season. But we haven’t gone swimming in it for about a month now. What’s great about the cover is that it attaches right to the concrete all around. There are sunken pegs that come up and hold the straps in place keeping the cover taught.

Each spring will be filled with a glorious moment as we view the pool once more. The joy will extend through the summer. For now, we will protect the pool from the winter elements with the cover. Until next spring…

That’s A Wrap

The weather was sunny and the temperature was decent, so we decided to take advantage of it. My wife and I went for a 5km walk at the Tynehead Park. It’s a short drive away from our home, so it was nice to wander an area that wasn’t quite at home. Since it’s autumn, the leaves have mostly left the trees and the bare bones of the park remains.

Later in the afternoon as the sun crested over our house, my son and I ventured into our backyard to wrap our palm trees. We used some burlap and created a blanket around the trunk. It was easy enough to do, and I know it is better to do this while it’s nice instead of when the cold snap hits. Hopefully the winter is mild and doesn’t hurt the palm trees.

After wrapping the trees, my son helped to run an extension cord under our back deck so that we could spin some rope lights around the trees. Besides a fun look, this will also keep them warm in the winter months as required.

Next spring it’ll be nice to see everything come back to life and spread some colour in the world. For now, gardening isn’t over- that’s a wrap.

This Isn’t Going To End Well

Today I was at home starting my vacation. This morning I was on a Zoom meeting while sitting on our front porch. As I was there, a lady with about four preschool aged children walked by. They noticed the banners I put out for Halloween. And one of the boys yelled up to me, “Is that Freddy VS Jason?” I was rather surprised that a kid under age five would know that.

Later on a couple of ladies walked by and stopped in front of our home. They were trying to figure out who the characters were from. Clearly our home is drawing attention.

Afterwards, I was in the garage making some Halloween decorations. A father and his young song passed by. They too saw the banners out front. I heard the father say to his son, “we will definitely come back to this house on Halloween.”

I’m sure that we will get more kids this year in this part of the neighborhood than they have in the past. Our last neighborhood we only gave out about a dozen treats. Three to each kid… It’ll be neat being in a suburb again, but it’s not going to end well. We better get a bunch of candy and be ready to hand it out.

Gloomy Nap

I tried to take a nap this evening after work. It was the perfect evening to do so when I lay down. The sky was dark and the rain was falling heavily.

Moments later, the sun decided it was having none of that. My once dark and gloomy bedroom was being filled with light. Aimed directly at my face. My bed was even with the sun as it set, so I was once again awake.

As a gift for waking me shortly after putting my head to rest, the universe granted me a rainbow. Actually it granted me a faint double rainbow out the front of the house. The rain continued as the sun did it’s best to show itself for a brief moment before hiding for the day.

I will forgive the universe this time for stopping my gloomy nap. Maybe next time I should close the blinds.

Halloween Is On The Way

I love October. It means Halloween is on the way!

I can start to wear more black clothes than I already did. I also have the next couple of months to wear some of my “Nightmare Before Christmas” t-shirts. I remember seeing that film in the theater as a teenager when it first came out. I took my girlfriend at the time on a date to our local six plex. Since then, so many women I know have loved the movie. Perhaps they have a thing for tall skinny dudes?

Getting closer to Halloween also means things are more spooky! Over the weekend, I pulled out some of our decorations and set them up in the yard. The two banners I picked up from the movie theater in 2003 still make up for the largest part of my decorations. Each banner is approximately 4’ x 8’ so they look spectacular (or is that spooktacular) hanging on our front windows. I have had numerous friends wanting to buy these banners from me. They keep asking when I will part with them. Probably never. They are an integral part of our Halloween decor.

Are you starting to decorate for Halloween? Or do you wait until a few days before? Let me know in the comments.

Existential Doggo

Another great evening to be had on the back deck as the sun begins to set. I keep on sharing pictures of the view, and it is well worth it. It seems I’m not the only one who enjoys the deck and the sky.

Our dog, Maki, has decided that she is just as good as her human family. She has discovered the joy of sitting on our back patio set and staring off into the horizon. I watched her for a while while she just zoned out.

When I finally got her attention, she just looked so happy. She also didn’t want to leave her seat. So I sat beside her and we gazed out on the horizon. She’s a great companion who can sit silently and just enjoy the moment.

Dogs are the best. I wonder what she was thinking?

Google Home

A little over a year ago we got ourselves set up on Google Nest Wifi. Since then, I have been really happy with using it as a Wi-Fi and as the occasional speaker. We then picked up a Google Chromecast to enjoy watching videos and VR. But today, I stepped up my Google Game and incorporated a bunch of smart devices.

Costco has dimmer switches available in a pack of 3 and plugs in a pack of four. The plugs are great since you can just plug them into the wall and then add your device. The switches take a bit more work. I’m glad that our home had a neutral wire available at every switch. Thank goodness for new home builds.

After getting the switches and plugs all set up, it was time to create some routines. One of the routines is to turn the lights outside on and the off at scheduled times of the night and morning. Saying “Ok Google…” and a catchphrase will set the mood for a pool party, or even meditation lounging in the bedroom. I also set up a bedtime routine which will turn on a light and added some nature sounds to calm down before sleep.

I’m sure there is plenty more to do with Google Home. For now, it’s time to teach my wife how to use it also. She may not like my Enya playlist and salt lamp going on, so she can create her own routines.

Nerdy tech stuff like this is fun. It takes a while to set up, and then I swear it’s forgotten about for ages. I need to get myself in the habit of taking to Google and not just turning on the lights. Maybe it’s movie time and the lights need to dim. Better use my phone since it’s already in my hand.

Do you have any tips or tricks when using Google Home? Any favorite devices or products you would recommend? Let me know in the comments.

Rooms Less Viewed

Since autumn is slowly encroaching on our lives, we will be spending more time indoors than we did over the summer. Of course I have mentioned some of our more used rooms in previous blogs. But there is also a couple of spaces that we use but just don’t have the pizazz or views that I have shared.

The “Flex Area”

Upstairs in the main section that leads to the bedrooms- we have a squared off “Flex Area”. Our couch fit in the spot under the window perfectly. Our dog loves this location as well. I also put our old plasma television with the PlayStation 4 across from it. The kids can disappear for a bit to watch tv or play games, but still be within yelling distance of the staircase.

It’s also a great area for the VR headset. Our son will put a couple of our Yogibos at the top of the stairs as an added safety when playing. (Although the virtual parameters are set well inside of this and will warn the player if they are crossing the border.)

The “Dining Room”

We have never really used a “Dining Room” as intended. Our last house had such an open concept that we would constantly move our dining table and piano around. In our new house, we opted to put our parlor grand piano and a glass door bookcase in the dining room. This section of the room is hardly used. Except for the dog bed. How come our dog gets two rooms?

A small section of the dining room is devoted to my wife’s work station at this time. She is enjoying facing the back windows and staring at the views whenever she looks up from her monitor. Next summer all of this will move into our front office (which is currently our eldest’s bedroom). For now, it’s a great use of a space we don’t use very often.

Do you use rooms for unintended purposes? Is your dining room a craft room perhaps? Or is a spare bedroom a darkroom for photography? Let me know how you use spaces in your home.

Wookiee Cookie Chaos

This morning I decided to bake some Wookiee Cookies. This is the first time I’ve baked cookies in our new house, so I thought it appropriate to bake my favorite ones.

As I was getting out the ingredients, I realized that I didn’t have chocolate chips. So I substituted caramel ones instead. Not a big deal. The milk chocolate chunks go well with almost any type of chips. But then the unthinkable happened.

The tub of sugar fell off the counter and spread everywhere. Tiny granules got in between my toes. You can see my barefoot print in the sugar on our floor. We were already low on sugar, but this put us well past needing to buy some. I cleaned up the mess, and continued on. I was able to salvage 1/2 a cup for my recipe.

My rage meant it was time to play some angry sounding music while I finished baking. White Zombie ended up on my Spotify playing from our TV. Which is kind of fitting as we are a little over a month from Halloween.

In the end the cookies turned out great and the kitchen was super clean. It’s still frustrating when mishaps occur. But such is life.

Starting Autumn Right

Autumn has officially started. All I can say is that we are doing alright as it takes hold and kicks summer to the curb. I have enjoyed the past few days already. The weather has been rather cooperative. Fooling us into thinking summer hasn’t ended.

Even though we have packed up our pool toys and patio furniture- we are getting every last possible day of use in. The last two days, and tomorrow as well, have kept the temperature in the low 20’s. So we’ve kept the pool heated and clean. I’ve spent more time doing laps than I did all summer. The pool is invigorating and relaxing.

Last night, my wife and I sat on our back deck with the fire pit warming us up. We talked and watched the traffic off in the distance as the darkness took hold of the evening. I love seeing the stars above and the city lights off in the distance. A cup of hot chocolate was a nice treat as well.

How are you enjoying the start of fall?

Morning Moon

The views from our home keep enthralling me. The other day was no exception.

I came home from work after a nigh shift and the fog had rolled in. Much like it had the other day. This was a bit different though- as the moon was still visible in the sky.

I zoomed in on my iPhone, but it couldn’t quite make out the moon. However, those colours were amazing. After numerous attempts to get a better photo of the moon, I gave up and retreated to my room.

Right before going to bed for the day, I moved the telescope in our bedroom and aimed towards the moon. I peered through the lens for a bit, entranced by the craters and shadows. I tried to get a photo using my iPhone, but it turned out far too blurry. However, you could still see the shadows on the surface.

It makes me want a better telescope with an attachment to take photos with my iPhone. Perhaps I’ll get one sometime. But for now, I’ll take what I can get. And what I get is beautiful scenery each day that I look out onto the horizon.

Foggy Feels

As autumn slowly approaches, the weather starts to turn. The sun disappears for longer. Rain falls more frequently. And the fog rolls in.

Looking out the back window, we get to enjoy being above the fog. Early mornings brings in a breathtaking view. The sun attempts to bring color to the sky as a gentle mist hovers low. Morning fog reminds me that fall is just around the corner.

Soon it will be Halloween. People will have fog machines going in an attempt to recreate a spooky sensation. When I was younger, these machines were mainly used in nightclubs and amusement parks. Now they are readily available and people love them.

Maybe one day I will own one. But it’s not on my agenda at this time. Even though they are inexpensive, I prefer the natural beauty of early morning fog.

Are you excited for autumn? How do you feel about foggy mornings? Are they spooky and pretty?

Let me know in the comments.

Gas Fireplaces

Today was a chilly and rain filled day. After being out shopping, my wife and I came home a tad bit wet and rather cold. So we relit the pilot lights on three of our four fireplaces. We turned the fireplaces on shortly after to burn off some of the summer dust.

Our bedroom boasts a two sided fireplace. For the part facing our bed, we placed a lovely faux sheepskin on the carpet. We love walking across it with bare feet- sliding along the softness. With the fireplace lit, it adds a lovely ambiance while laying in bed.

On the other side of the fireplace we have a painting hung up above that our friend made. There is also a chair by the door which leads to the deck. My wife is hoping to learn how to play her bass guitar while sitting with the fire on and viewing the sky.

Our living room fireplace is the only one with a fan. Which makes sense since it has the largest area needed to heat. Today, I decided to add a smart device to it. Now through Google Home I can turn on the fan and the tv. At Christmas, I’ll add a couple plugs for the trees and have them connected to Google Home as well.

The other fireplace we have in the upper floors of the house is in the office. However, the office is currently our daughter’s bedroom. So I’m not adding a photo, she likes her privacy. But once she moves downstairs, my wife is looking forward to working from home with a lovely fire. Our tenants have the other fireplace which is in the second living room. Soon, that will be our oldest’s personal space.

Having gas fireplaces is a luxury we never knew we needed. Our last home has wood burning fireplaces which we used every winter. After having the fire going today in our living room I did notice that my asthma was not affected. Unlike our previous house where I would be wheezing within an hour.

I love having a fireplace and enjoy the moments hanging around them. The soft warm glow makes me happy inside.

Blister In The Sun

After a hard day of manual labor, I had to take note of my hands. They were rough, dirty and beat up. I was assaulted by blackberry bushes that caught my skin and tore me up. But the worst was the blisters I received from the tools I used.

It may not have been an excruciatingly sunny day, but I broke into a sweat. After my first blister began, I caught myself singing “Blister in The Sun” by Violent Femmes over and over in my head. Let me go why??? I also tried to baby that spot, but the skin quickly tore away, so I gave in to the pain.

My days off are usually filled with chores and work that I do for my family and home. Seeing my rough hands makes me think of my father and how hard he would go to finish his chores. I have a similar trait and when I start something- it needs to be seen to completion.

I still get prideful doing work. Blisters and all.

A Windstorm? Hardly Noticed.

Early this morning we had a windstorm roll through the neighborhood. It was a little gusty still as I headed out this morning. However, I didn’t even notice until I opened the door.

We had a few things blow over, but the 60km/h winds didn’t shake us up like they had in the past. In our previous home we would have been awake all night listening to the trees sway and crack. Not to mention the fear of the damage that would be inflicted on our house and yard.

Trees falling and power out for days on end are a thing of the past. Windy days in our old house are now someone else’s concerns. My wife and I slept peacefully and our home didn’t make a peep. Such a nice change of pace compared to the last 15 years.

Pillars Of Excellence

We have had a couple of wooden pillars in our possession since my days of working at the Home Depot. I bought them for $5 for the pair- which was a great deal considering they were a custom order at $200/each but got cancelled and just sat in the store. The pillars just stayed unpainted and in the way in our last two homes. I never knew what I wanted to do with them.

My wife came up with an idea to finally put them to good use. So I painted them with a couple coats of flat black yesterday. I was glad to see that even after two moves and nearly 20 years- there was no damage done to them.

Now that the columns are painted, I put a piece of tile on the top of each of them and set them up at our front door. We bought a couple of small trees to put on the top. Next week we are planning to buy bigger (and nicer) pots for them.

In the end, I’m happy that the pillars got put to use. I like the idea of using them as a plant stand. They look great outside our front door.

Sky Reflections

Yesterday was a beautiful sunny day. As the evening entered- the clouds also rolled in. This created a wonderful scene in the sky. Yesterday I did mention that it was The Last Day Of Good Weather.

As I was as getting out of the hammock to head inside and make dinner, I noticed our house. The glass on the railing and the windows were creating a mirror like quality of the skyline. The back of our house was facing the darker sky while above our home was fluffy clouds and blue sky peering through.

Looking at the windows, it just didn’t look real. Yet there it was, a mirror like quality showing the world what the house could see. Both skies were happening at the same time. Truly a spectacle to behold.

I have enjoyed seeing the sky on a regular basis these past few months. I don’t think I will ever lose the wonderment it brings.

Last Of The Good Weather

As the summer draws to an end, the last of the good weather is upon us. These past three months have been nothing short of amazing. A few heat waves thrown in, and a new home with a pool to enjoy the summer sun.

After an afternoon of swimming, I realized I better enjoy my evening outside before starting dinner. There’s a light breeze, a gentle sunset and a singsong of the birds. All of which I am enjoying while I write today’s blog in my hammock. After my swim, I also tossed on my pajamas to create the ultimate comfort.

I’m going to cut today’s blog short as I want to spend some time watching the clouds roll by overhead. It’s so much easier to relax without a screen in front of my face. Besides some music earlier, I haven’t touched my phone all day.

I’m at peace with the world today. It feels good.

The Pathway To Curb Appeal

Over the past couple of weeks, I have been working hard at creating “curb appeal” for our home. Most of the summer was too hot to do manual labor in the front yard. During that time, we enjoyed our backyard immensely, and who wouldn’t?

But it finally came time to start with landscaping the front. I would be lying if I didn’t say I had “Yard Envy” of our neighbors. They all had a decade to creat beautiful landscapes. The home we bought- the previous owners put the time and money into the backyard. The gave my wife and I pretty much a blank canvas to do what we want in the front.

All summer we talked and planned. We drew ideas, hit some nurseries, and finally started in the purchasing of plants and such. A few bushes, trees, dirt, cement slabs, and stones have arrived. It has been back breaking work, quite literally. I pushed myself too hard last week and felt it.

After that, my wife put our two youngest to work helping out. I utilized our middle for quite a bit of the work. So naturally I paid her afterwards- much to her surprise. Today, my wife also took a few minutes to assist me. (Do I need to pay her also?)

Here are some of the before pictures of what we have done thus far. We decided to add a stone path along the driveway that leads past the front garden and towards our back gate. I did this all the right way, so I won’t have to try and fix it later on. We dug up the grass, leveled it off, lay down landscape fabric, put in a border, spread some sand, put down the slabs and shoveled the tiny stones all around.

Last week we planted a few of the bushes where we want them to be the centerpieces once we finish pulling up the lawn and adding some garden islands. In fact, we are hoping to remove the entire lawn to create a beautiful, low maintenance garden. That will likely happen next spring.

Today was a delivery of the stones and it only took about two hours to spread it out. The final look of the pathway is amazing. I’m really satisfied with how it turned out. I always love a sense of accomplishment when finishing a project. Now on to the next one!

First Attempt At Foam Pumpkin Carving

I love to carve pumpkins for Halloween. I often spend hours searching for designs and creating my pumpkins. I have been doing it for years now. Check out the links below to view some:

Pumpkins 2020

Stranger Things

Pumpkins 2018

Pumpkins 2017

Pumpkins pre-2016

I recently carved my first craft foam pumpkin. I always wanted to do a more permanent pumpkin that I can display yearly. Since I can spend anywhere from 3 to 8 hours carving a live pumpkin, why not have it last longer than a single season?

My wife requested that I do not do a “Fan Art” pumpkin. She wanted me to try and do something more classic and still a bit detailed. So I chose to make an owl- my favorite one as well. The Burrowing Owl. Owls are Halloween, right?

I used a black and white image online as the basis for my owl. I’m about 85% satisfied with the results. I can see what I can do differently next time. But since I have not worked with this style of pumpkin before, I’d say not bad for a first attempt. Next will be to see how it looks with a small LED light inside.

Have you worked with foam pumpkins before? Or do you prefer the real thing? Let me know in the comments or feel free to share pictures of your detailed pumpkins. I love to see what others create.

Colours Make Me Happy

Last night, my wife and I prepared dinner together. She had already done a bunch of the preparation work prior to my arrival home. As we worked in the kitchen- we created a beautiful ballet of coordinated movements. Not once did we get in each other’s way, or bump into one another.

Dinner was a flavorful udon noodle soup. With a soft boiled egg, sautéed mushrooms, garlic steamed carrots, seared pork, seaweed and spinach. A delicious medley of tastes that all came together in a large soup bowl.

After dinner was done, the sun was putting on a dazzling show for us in the sky. The colours mimicking the pleasure we experienced from creating and enjoying our meal. The different hues and tones shone into our kitchen creating a sense of wonderment.

Sometimes experiencing the world is akin to admiring a great painting. The views last night were absolutely awe inspiring and tranquil. A true treasure to behold.

I love the colours of the world.

When To Decorate For Halloween?

It’s September now, and I know summer isn’t officially over until nightfall on September 21. The next day is the first day of Autumn. So my question is, when is it okay to decorate for Halloween?

I enjoy decorating for Autumn and Winter. I also love Halloween and Christmas. To me, each of them is a separate entity. So a few changes occur as we transition from one to the next. I’m pretty sure that next weekend I will be jumping the gun and start putting out our Fall decorations.

I’m not quite ready to tackle Halloween yet. I was at Home Depot the other day and saw these 12 foot skeletons that light up. Spending 400-500 dollars on one seems very extravagant. Even though these are cool and make for a wow factor in a home- whatever happened to some styrofoam tombstones and cobwebs?

Don’t get me wrong, I love Halloween. I just prefer to make my own costumes and props. I have been known to put in a bit more effort some years. I especially love pumpkin carving. But I do feel that I should wait until October 1st before really hitting the haunted factor.

A few fake pumpkins, and some brown and red leaves will be the extent of my decorations for now. Perhaps I shall wait and see what our new neighborhood does for the season. Nah. I’ll still do what I want. Perhaps we will go big this year!