Watching Winter Fade Away

As the sun makes a more regular appearance these days, it feels as if winter is long since behind us. But Spring is still two weeks away.

My wife and I went out for a walk in Fort Langley today in order to take advantage of the weather. The coffee shops and restaurants had people lined up- social distancing of course. It wasn’t as busy as we expected on the trails, which was nice. We walked for about 5km just talking and enjoying a day off from house hunting. However, a couple of trains went by, reminding me of work.

At home, the vegetation is starting to become green and budding. We will get to enjoy one last Spring Bloom in this house, which is what we wanted. We talked about the plants that we will take to our next home instead of talking about what we will miss about this one.

In a sense, we are already moved out as we separate our feelings from this home. Sure, there’s still yard work and cleaning to do over the next couple of months. We don’t want to leave the place in shambles for the new owners. Plus we get the joy of spring and the feeling of starting anew.

Attic Storage

Since we are moving, I need to get into the attic and start pulling stuff out. I sort of know what’s up there. But I still wanted to check it out.

Disney Recess Movie. I forgot I had this banner!

We actually have three attics for storage in this house. I have emptied two of them so far. One had a box of wires. The other had old movie banners and fans for the summer. The third- which is above our linen closet- should contain a few Rubbermaid containers of baby/toddler clothes. Not a ton of stuff, but stuff nonetheless.

We have been paring down on stuff for a few months now. We started by trying to get the kids on board in decluttering their rooms. It wasn’t until we staged the house that this was finally accomplished. We have a little over three months to go through our stuff and decide what to keep and what to donate/sell. The final process will happen once we know where we are moving to and what stuff will make our trek to the new place.

Of course, we will probably still bring junk in boxes that shall stay packed up for many more years. Just because we cannot part with it. Relocating boxes from home to home without ever throwing it away? Seems like it would be commonplace in everyone’s house- just like a junk drawer. That’s normal, right?

I think moving is a good opportunity to evaluate what we have.

And what we have is a ton of junk!

Magic Kingdom For Sale- SOLD!

We have officially sold Castle Havelka. The subjects were removed last night and the final contract was signed. Perhaps it was this write up about our house from our agent that helped us get an offer within a week and a sold sign in twelve days:

“Quiet, Peaceful and Park Like! 38,000 sq ft southern exposed lot situated on a small cul-de-sac street in one of the best locations in desirable Salmon River. In an area of brand new luxury small acreage homes. This sprawling 3,134 sq ft two storey home has a terrific layout, exquisite detail and tons of character throughout. Beautiful large rooms including inviting kitchen/eating area plus large media and dining room on main floor. Upstairs has 5 large bedrooms. Fall in love with your backyard including large deck space with “Nano Style” doors opening up to your manicured grounds . Walking distance to North Otter Elementary. Wrap around driveway with tons of parking. Room for Shop! RV Parking. First time on market! This one is a must see!”

Now it’s time to hunker down on the house search. We’ve only scratched the surface and barely dipped our toes into the pool of what homes are out there. It’s time to really push our imaginations and find the right place for us. Essentially we are planning to buy a home that our teens can become adults in if they so choose to still live with us. We are looking for more space inside of the house and closer to big city amenities.

We are giving up the “Country Living” hashtag and going for more “Suburban Living”. It also means that CASTLE HAVELKA will need a new moniker for our next place. I want to use Kingdom, Empire or Realm to describe our next place. Perhaps Chalet or Shanty will be the term. Only time will tell with how it turns out.

I’m glad that this step is behind us. One sigh of relief has occurred, now to take a deep breath and dive into our house hunting!

Hump Day Happiness

It’s always a good feeling when the weather is nice. The world just seems more alive and vibrant.

Sometimes a midweek break of poor weather has you looking forward to the weekend. A day at work or school just seems to be a bit more pleasant as you look out the windows. It lifts your spirits with the knowledge that the weekend is fast approaching.

Cresting Hump Day means the week is almost over. A sense of relief, a warm fuzzy, a breath of fresh air.

I like sunny hump days.

What Day Is It?

Working night shifts is pretty rough these days. My sleep pattern is so broken because of all the extra stuff going on with selling and buying a house. I get phone calls, emails and texts from our realtor during “normal” business hours while I’m trying to sleep. I was glad last week when I only had to work Three Shifts.

I can’t get angry at those who contact me. But I do wish that I could pass them off to my wife. Problem is she is working normal hours. Usually she is good at leaving me alone. My kids however… they tend to be louder and noisier when they know I need sleep.

I’m about to go in for my third 12 hour shift in a row tonight. I feel like a zombie- getting just barely enough sleep in order to function. I have one more to go after this as well.

Hopefully I can catch up on some sleep on my days off. Then I can become normal once more.

March On

I cannot believe that we are in March of 2021 already. It feels like only yesterday that lockdowns began. But it’s been over a year. Here we are heading towards spring the following year… when is this pandemic going to end?

The “New Normal” is now the normal. Wear a mask, wash your hands ♾ times a day, keep your distance, no large crowds… For the most part, we are all accepting of these new rituals. I have become more accustomed to hand sanitizing than I ever thought I’d be.

Of course this has also made us buggy and stir crazy. (Since when did Sea Shanties become popular?) In the end we have discovered what is important to us. Walks in nature, making video calls to family and friends, learning new skills like baking or painting- all part of the “New Normal”.

As a society, we have been able to March On. That makes us resilient. Let’s keep up the positivity as we head towards a healthy tomorrow.

Living Like The Jetsons

Looking for a new house has me realizing that technology has come a long way. Especially when walking through brand new builds.

Many of us just accept the fact that TV’s have moved from a large cabinet piece on the floor to a picture frame on the wall. And that the image has grown exponentially in size and the sound is immersive. This is in every house.

But now we can buy a fridge with a touchscreen and camera built in. That way one can connect to see what groceries they may need while out shopping. Or there’s a stove you can turn on remotely as well. Plus a number of other small appliances with similar features.

We are one step closer to living like The Jetson’s. Essentially we are on the cusp- minus the flying cars and buildings in the sky. Everything else is becoming commonplace in a similar fashion.

Is it making life easier or making us lazier? I think it’s a bit of both. But it allows for us to find the free time to explore more about the world. We can enjoy the arts more, create more, and just live in the moment more often.

Technology has come a long way for how we live. At least we aren’t on the Oregon Trail dying from dysentery.

Shellfish Medley

I really do miss traveling these days. Besides hitting exciting destinations and seeing the sites, there’s a big thing that happens while traveling. It’s also the most costly part of vacations. That’s eating at restaurants- for five of us.

When we travelled as a family, we would make sure to go to one or two special restaurants. Some of my favorite places were sushi, ramen and seafood. We also made sure to dress up for a dinner as well (depending on the trip). Making meals an experience is just as important as the meals themselves.

Recently I was really missing the places like Joe’s Crab Shack, Bubba Gump’s, & The Crab Pot. From Anaheim to Seattle, even though they are relatively close- we aren’t leaving Canada any time soon. So why not bring the meals to us?

I went to the store and loaded up on shellfish for tonight’s dinner at home. Clams, mussels, snow crab, tiger prawns, Thai prawns, potatoes, fried farmer sausage and corn. It took me about thirty minutes of preparation and cooking. I sautéed some onion in garlic butter. Then I added a bottle of beer, two cups of water and lemon juice bringing it to a bowl. I spiced it up a bit with chili flakes, sriracha sauce and paprika before steaming the shellfish for a few minutes. Once everything was done, I tossed it all in a large canning pot with some taco seasoning.

Dinner was a success! Even though we had a large pot of food on the table, it was almost all gone. Everyone went for seconds and thirds. While we ate we talked about our previous vacations. It was a great feeling to reminisce. I enjoy how food can take us back to places we once visited.

Inspection Preparation

On Monday, our prospective buyers are paying for a bunch of inspections on the property. This is completely normal and will lend to a peace of mind for what they can expect once they take possession of the house.

In doing so, we needed to help make everything more accessible. We don’t exactly have a “regular” house for sale. We are in a neighborhood of acreages and farm land. First thing we did was dig out the septic tank access points. It was a ton of fun getting my two youngest to dig. Hashtag sarcasm.

I then headed into the attic to take a quick gander. The roof and insulation look great- nothing out of the ordinary there. I did enjoy the escape from any other burdens while I was up there. If it wasn’t for the dust and insulation, I would have contemplated taking a nap.

Lastly, I went under the house and into the crawl space with the help of my son. I wanted to do a quick survey of the foundation and if there were any possible leaks or damage. Nope. It all looks well aged and sturdy.

The bones of this home are strong. Which makes it really hard to say farewell to it. However, it also means that the future owners (maybe this couple, if not perhaps someone else) will have some great building blocks to work with should they do choose to change things up.

Since they are putting up so much money for these inspections, I would hope that the seriousness of the purchase remains in tact for when the subjects get removed. Now to let the stress build up for a few more days and eat away at me from the inside out. But hey, at least our attic is full of cotton candy!

Offer Accepted

After only one week on the market, we accepted an offer on our house. There’s subjects to be removed within the next week, but if all goes well- that’s one hurdle down, about 1.9 million more to go.

This is a big step for us all. And now that the reality of moving and leaving this house has really stepped up its game- we need to find us a place to live. Lucky for us we put in a date of mid-June in order to allow the two youngest to finish school without much in the way of interruptions.

That’s almost four months of trying to find the perfect home to relocate to. I think it’s doable. What I’m really liking is that friends and coworkers from all over the area are trying to convince us to move to their neighborhoods. Everyone is proud of where they live, and it shows.

So if you know of a great location in the Lower Mainland of BC with five bedrooms and a suite to rent- let me know! We could be neighbors!

Stress Crying

It’s been a very long time since stress has hit me. But yesterday it hit me so hard that I broke down crying. And it happened in front of my family. The group of people that I do my best to remain calm and emotionally strong in front of.

I’m not going into details, because airing my personal business isn’t something I think is appropriate all the time. But needless to say I hit a breaking point where I needed to take a shower to wash away the tears. That helped a lot.

I like to use my blog as a place of positivity. Rarely, if ever, do I share the bad on here. So I’d like to take the fact that I hit a low point and turn it around. There’s only one way to go and that is up. Things and situations are just going to get better. They just have to, right?

Right. Things are going to get better! Positive Mental Attitude.

Three Day Work Week Stress

Hooray for the upcoming four day weekend!

With everything that is going on this month- it is nice to realize that I only have a three day work week. Even better is the fact that I have only one more shift to go. What’s been really good is that work has been comforting in the fact that the stresses there are manageable.

I’m not liking the house selling/buying stresses. About twenty years ago when my wife and I did a “Pre-Marriage Course”. It was part of the agreement we made with the pastor in order for her to marry us. The course was over a weekend and delved into a lot of subjects related to marriage. The one I recall the most was how to Tri-fold a towel. The other was about the different stresses in our lives. (Folding towels isn’t one of them… unless you make it one).

The top stressors after death and marriage was having children and moving. I’m happy to report that divorce hasn’t happened and death in the family has been at the wayside since just before we married. Children are an ongoing stress. But moving has happened only twice since my wife and I met 21 years ago. I guess it was about time to add that stress in our lives.

So as nice as it is that I have a three day work week, it just means that I will be able to focus my free time at home stressed out. No real avenue to relieve that stress either. I’ll probably just end up gathering more junk together and get it ready for pick up. I’m also going to try going for a walk each day to clear my head. I just need to stay active and not dive too far into my own thoughts.

Now We Wait

Over the weekend we had nine viewings of our home. I have no idea if that is high or low or about average. But it does mean that people wanted to see our house. So that’s a good sign.

Now it’s a waiting game. We wait and see if there is a purchaser for this house. I’m positive that there is someone out there that would take great care of this home the same way we have over the years. Hopefully a family with little kids to enjoy the yard.

But waiting to hear anything sucks. A bazillion thoughts go through your mind. The kind of thoughts that keep you up at night causing you to feel unrested and agitated the next day.

Soon it will all be over. The waiting will end and the stress will dissolve. I just wish for that day to come quickly.

Showing The House

I completely forgot about the details involved in showing a house. Especially when you need to continue living in it. There’s the last minute cleaning, making sure the place is staged to show nothing of your personal life, plus we have dogs that need to be taken away.

The real estate agents make it sound so easy. Which in the long run, I suppose it is. The minor inconveniences we face this weekend could mean the difference between selling the house in a timely manner or waiting far longer for an offer. The thought of doing showings for months on end is not one I want to face.

Since we stayed away from our home for almost seven hours yesterday, the staging today went really easy. Yesterday we went for a walk through a park to kill some time followed by a picnic. Today will be more of the same. The doggos seemed to like it. However there is a sprinkling of rain that may occur. I’m not thrilled at the thought of the smell of wet dog in my car.

But wanting top dollar for our home means a few hours of doing our part. Fingers crossed that the showings go well. I just want to put a sign on the front door: “Buy this house!

Buying A New Home

Our house was put on the market late this week. Within the first 24 hours we booked half a dozen showings for today. We also noticed a lot of cars not from our neighborhood doing a slow drive-by of the home. Hopefully this is all a good sign and we will sell our home.

The thing is, my wife and I have not found a house to buy yet. We ourselves have been looking for the past two months and have gone to several viewings of potential places. Many of which are perfect- for someone else. Or we would need to change our lifestyle drastically to enjoy the home.

At some point our criteria for the perfect home will need to be trimmed. Especially since the market is so hot right now and places are generally selling within a week of listing. Good and bad for us. So we will need to act quickly on a place it seems.

Our biggest wish is for a place with a rental suite. This will allow us to help our adult children to live near Vancouver and save money towards their own place one day. The other “must have” is the the house should be fairly new, or at least be upgraded. A big kitchen is desired and a garage. Beyond that, most everything else is superficial extras.

We know that we are giving up yard space. But that also means that maintaining a smaller yard should be easier. We also know that we will finally have neighbors that we will see more often. And that’s cool,

I kind of miss the suburban lifestyle. Let’s see how long that lasts when we join it once more.

Castle Havelka

It has officially happened folks. After a couple of years of hemming and hawing we put our house on the market to sell. This has been an emotional and tough decision that didn’t happen easily.

First, some history on the house:

It was built by my wife’s father in the early 70’s. He was a bricklayer by trade and enjoyed woodworking as a hobby- and it shows throughout the home. We took possession of the house in May of 2007 when our son was only one year old. It has been a great home to grow in with our kids, with innumerable memories made and loads of personal touches added over the years. Putting the house on the market has a greater emotional connection with more members of this family than just my wife and I.

Here is a collection of pictures from the house after staging. It sure feels like a little oasis away from the hustle and bustle of life.

If you wish to check the listing while it is still active, head over to REW. This house has never been on the market, so the value we put on it is worth more in memories than it is in dollars.

We are excited to pass it on as we say goodbye to the beautiful nature that surrounded us. This is a truly unique home that we hope will be enjoyed by future families.

Seven Minutes of Terror

Today NASA is sharing a live feed of the Perseverance Rover landing on Mars. It has taken a decade of planning to get to this point. And there is no guarantee that it will go smoothly.

Approximately 60% of the trips to Mars have failed. That’s huge considering this next trip has cost $2.7 Billion. It is set to touch down at 12:55pm Pacific Time (15:55 Eastern). NASA is providing a live feed on their YouTube Channel starting at 11:15 Pacific Time (14:15 Eastern).

The information I read online about the final few minutes, dubbed “Seven Minutes of Terror” is:

“The Perseverance will plow into the Martian atmosphere at speeds reaching 12,100 mph (19,500 km/h) at 3:48 p.m. EST (12:48 p.m. PST). The ensuing Seven Minutes of Terror will involve extreme heat, the deployment of a supersonic parachute, and the rover’s separation from the heat shield and back shell. By the time it hits the dirt—with the assistance of retrorockets and tethers—Perseverance will have slowed down to a walking pace.”

So we could be witnessing a historical landing or absolute destruction involving billions of dollars of research. Either way- I’m excited to watch it. If the rover is successful in its landing- it will share images with us within moments of landing.

NASA has a live feed on YouTube leading up to these events: NASA if you wish to watch.

Weather or Not

The past week’s weather has been bonkers here in the Lower Mainland. We experienced a Polar Vortex just days ago. We even had to dig out the winter parkas just to get from the front door to the car.

This afternoon I was out in my yard with a hoodie and jeans playing with the dog.

The sun and mild weather is a welcomed change. The sunshine brought my spirits up. Even our yard was looking a bit more vibrant than usual. I watched the neighbors wandering around the streets- all of whom seemed to have a pep in their step.

I like that we received a brief taste of spring already. Some of our plants are starting to bud. Now if only the little bits of snow would vanish, I’d be really happy.

Recognized By My Peers

Today at work it was pointed out by my boss that I had won a prize for my participation in our my continued focus on our Safety culture. In my company’s program called “Looking Out For Each Other” it turns out that a coworker from another department nominated me for finding and correcting a safety concern in a timely manner.

I appreciate being nominated and getting the recognition. For me, this job is unforgiving and any safety issues should be dealt with quickly. Safety is a part of everyone’s job here- hence the idea of “Looking Out For Each Other”. I’ve worked here since 2007, and have made many friends. All of whom I want to see go home to their families and friends.

I was surprised by the recognition and reached out to the employee who nominated me. It was humbling to hear his take on why he nominated me.

I finished my work day feeling accomplished for the first time in ages. This was a good feeling that I needed.

Wasabi Peas

I am going to start this off by saying, I am a wimp when it comes to spicy foods. I never much liked hot wings or overly spicy chili. I’ve eaten these in the past, but I don’t like the burn in my mouth. Or my bum after… (ya, I went there. We all know what happens- what goes in must come out…)

But my spicy guilty pleasure is wasabi.

I love eating it with sushi- it makes the fish taste POP. And I devour sushi regularly. Years ago, my wife introduced me to another treat as well when we first met- Wasabi Peas.

These things are glorious. The way the dried peas are coated in a wasabi shell makes them look like little boogers. Toss a couple on your tongue, and the stinging sensation starts. After nibbling a few, a sweet honey-like taste emerges. Making the undeniable urge to crave more.

Pure, mouth watering, tongue burning evil… in a can. A treat that I cannot stop eating once I have opened a package. My wife is upset that I finished this last can without her. She likes to point out that she originally gave me some when we were dating as a joke because she knew I didn’t like spicy. Little did she know that it would be a favorite treat of mine.

Is there any foods you normally don’t like but make an exception for a variation of it? Do you really hate tomatoes, but can’t eat fries without ketchup? Let me know in the comments.

All That And A Bag Of Chips

Valentine’s Day is about love. I have found over the years that expressing love today doesn’t need to be flashy and over the top. Nonetheless, moments like that are beautiful and memorable. But you can be romantic in simpler ways as well.

For my wife, I gave her a bag of Lays potato chips and a case of pink grapefruit soda. It may sound silly to everyone, but I know that it meant a great deal to her. That’s because when we first began dating, this was her comfort snack while we cuddled.

“Dee-ah-tay Pample-Mousse” as we called the pop, is a great refreshing beverage. My wife used to enjoy having a 2 liter bottle at the side of the bed. She would have it sitting there for days on end, just slowly going flat. But that’s how she liked to drink it.

Memories like this are what makes Valentine’s Day a bit more romantic in my eyes. Looking back at our younger selves with awe and amazement that we have been together for over 20 years now. If I could, I would go back in time. Not to change anything, but rather to relive the moments once more.

Happy Valentine’s Day sweetheart. I’m glad that you are all that- and a bag of potato chips.

I Forgot To Take Pictures- But It Happened

Today my wife and I had a lunch date at The Trading Post in Fort Langley. It was a double date with some coworkers of mine. We went to celebrate the 5th anniversary of the brewery. There was live music and good food. Pics or it didn’t happen.

I took one photo. It was as I waited outside the eatery before anyone met up with me. My wife was waiting in the car to keep warm prior to the opening. Our friends were only a couple minutes behind us. I was first in line. Just like my other years of attending their anniversaries.

We had a great time talking and eating. So much so that I didn’t take any photos. We just all lived in the moment. No sharing of life on social media. Lots of good laughs and intimate personal conversations. It was good to share in person.

So no photos. But it did happen. I’m glad it did- my wife and I needed a break from this week. A mental health break of sorts. It felt good.

Weight Loss?

I’ve never been one to push weight loss on anyone. The human race comes in all sorts of shapes and sizes. I myself am a tall, lanky fella. up until almost six months ago I also drank heavily. Deep fried foods are still a favorite of mine, but I’m also trying to eat somewhat better.

For years I enjoyed taking in a craft beer or six on my days off. I wasn’t exercising or eating very healthy either. My body was not very happy with me. It started to give up and went with it. This tall skinny guy had begun to create himself quite the Beer Gut. I would shrug it off and just say, “It’s my Dad Bod.” But I also began having some heart palpitations more regularly and that finally scared me.

So I took on Sober September 3. Only instead of giving into drinking on October 1st, I stayed sober and have been since then. I didn’t lose the “Dad Bod” right away. In fact, over the Christmas period I was eating loads of rich foods and my gut was just hanging out, wondering where the beer was. Somehow in 2021, my body decided to adapt to this new predicament.

My wife got me back into using a Fitbit just after Christmas. So I began tracking my steps and watching my sleeping. She also picked up a Fitbit scale and every so often I stepped on it. Yes folks, I have lost weight. And it’s the good kind of loss. My gut has diminished finally.

There were no extreme diets. No crazy exercise regime. Just walking and being alcohol free. It has taken me almost six months to look and feel better. Both physically and mentally.

Tomorrow I am going for a lunch date to the Trading Post. What was once my favorite beer place is still my favorite restaurant. I can enjoy the atmosphere without the drinking. Besides, I am finally starting to look and feel healthy. I’m not about to shake that up.

Haul It Away

This purging thing my family and I are doing is making me crazy. It has now reached the point where I had to get someone out to haul away the junk we have collected. Especially since we don’t have a truck or a trailer to take things away on our own.

We have stuff that just never found it’s way off our property. An old pool table, a fridge, a bbq, a lawnmower, scrap metal and wood, plus a variety of odds and ends. Some is absolute trash. Other things should find a new lease on life at a donation drop off.

After an hour, the truck was almost 3/4 full. A few hundred dollars later, and our yard is empty once more.

It’s a good feeling to be rid of all this junk.

Polar Vortex!

I thought the other day was cold. The universe proved me wrong.

Today the sun was out but so was the wind. I had a few things to do in the yard, so I threw on some gloves and a hat thinking that would be enough. Nope. I rushed around quickly and headed back into my abode. The wind was bringing with it a very cold Arctic air.

I know, I know… I should just be quiet as the rest of Canada and Russia are getting hit harder and colder. But that’s why I like living where we do. Our weather is far warmer. There’s a reason Vancouver is called Hollywood North- we are trying to be more like California than we are trying to be like the Yukon.

All I want to is stay warm. This winter stuff can go away any time now.